No. 21 Charlotte 80, Memphis 77

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)—With his team clinging to the lead with 45 seconds to go, Charlotte’s do-it-all player had a rare turnover.

Mortified, Eddie Basden vowed to make up for it.

He did, grabbing a huge offensive rebound that drew a foul and sent him to the line with 1.8 seconds to play. Basden made two free throws to help No. 21 Charlotte pull out an 80-77 victory over Memphis on Wednesday night.

“I had just committed a turnover not too long ago,” Basden said. “I knew I had to make up for it one way or another. I am always going to fight, and I went after that ball.”

His late-game heroics moved the 49ers (20-4, 11-2 Conference USA) into a tie with Louisville for first place with the victory—their sixth straight.

“This puts us in a wonderful position,” Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz said. “It puts us right where we want to be.”

Memphis (16-11, 9-4) dropped two games behind the leaders.

Basden saved the game for Charlotte both offensively and defensively.

Mitchell Baldwin had a chance to seal the win with 3.9 seconds to play when he went to the line for two free throws. But he missed both, and Basden and Memphis’ Darius Washington went high for the rebound after the second.

Basden got the ball in his hands and tied up with Washington, who appeared to slam Basden to the court. Although the officials rushed to break it up, both players indicated it was a clean play and hugged as they got up.

Then Basden went to the line and locked up the victory by making the free throws.

“The little scuffle, me and Darius go back some, to summer camp,” Basden said. “We have a friendship, so I knew it was nothing personal. The game just had a lot of intensity and both of us wanted the ball.”

Basden, who has earned conference player of the week honors in two of the past three weeks, was 7-of-13 from the field and 10-of-12 from the free throw line. He had seven rebounds and three steals, the latter breaking Charlotte’s season record of 77, set by Delano Johnson in 1990-91.

Basden, the reigning C-USA defensive player of the year, also switched over to guard Washington in the second half. Washington scored just 13 of his game-high 29 with Basden on him.

“I wouldn’t trade (Eddie) for anybody in the country,” Lutz said. “He has always been our hardest worker, he has unbelievable confidence and great energy. I think he is terrific.”

So did Memphis coach John Calipari, who credited Basden with beating the Tigers.

“They came up with every loose ball,” Calipari said. “Every loose ball down the stretch they grabbed them, and Eddie Basden got most of them. That’s a man right there.”

Curtis Withers finished with 20 points for Charlotte, while Brendan Plavich scored 12—all on 3-pointers—and Baldwin added 10.

Basden had a terrific first half, scoring 13 points including a one-armed windmill dunk after he stole the ball just shy of midcourt. He drew a foul on the play, and his free throw gave the 49ers a 18-17 lead.

As the half was coming to a close, Basden showcased his defensive skills by reaching up and blocking Washington’s attempted dunk with the palm of his hand. It was the first dunk the 49ers had stopped and started a momentum-grabbing swing for Charlotte that was punctuated by Plavich’s 3-pointer at the buzzer that gave the 49ers a 39-38 lead.

But the Tigers opened the second half with four 3-pointers—two by Carney— to open a 52-42 lead.

Charlotte pulled back into it behind a spinning jumper by Basden, a 3-pointer from Plavich, and then a fast-break dunk by Basden that cut Memphis’ lead to 54-50.

There was some physical play between the teams as they trailed after Basden on the dunk, which led Charlotte’s assistant coaches to rush to the middle of the floor to separate a scuffle as Memphis called a timeout. The officials spent several moments reviewing film, but the only available shots were of Basden’s dunk. Unable to determine what had happened, they called both coaches to midcourt and forced them to shake hands before resuming play.

Calipari downplayed the incident, even though he said he would review Memphis’ tape to see if he could figure out what happened.

“Bobby and I are fine, even though he was complaining about me the whole game,” Calipari said. “But so was every fan, all 8,000 of them.”

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