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Thomas leads No. 22 Memphis over Marshall 71-59

AP - Sports
Thomas leads No. 22 Memphis over Marshall 71-59
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Marshall's Nigel Spikes, right, blocks a shot by Memphis' Shaq Goodwin during the first half of an NCAA …

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Adonis Thomas' shooting touch felt good as soon as he entered Marshall's gym. The Memphis sophomore's work around the rim was solid, too, and his first career double-double was a big reason behind the Tigers' 16th straight win.

Thomas scored a career-high 23 points and matched a career best with 10 rebounds to lead No. 22 Memphis to a 71-59 win over Marshall on Saturday night.

''I shot the ball really well in warmups,'' Thomas said. ''I always try to get to the game early, and my shot was falling and I felt good. I want to keep it up for the rest of the season.''

The Tigers (22-3, 11-0 Conference USA) haven't lost since an 87-78 setback at home to No. 12 Louisville on Dec. 15 and maintain a two-game lead over Southern Miss in the standings with six games left until the conference tournament.

''We've got a streak going and we want to keep it alive,'' Thomas said. ''Everybody's excited. We need to keep playing with the same amount of intensity, the same amount of heart and stay out there focused. Everybody's doing a great job and contributing.''

Joe Jackson added 12 points and Geron Johnson had 11 for the Tigers, who improved to 7-0 in road games with the help of their reserves. The Memphis bench outscored their Marshall counterparts 19-6.

Elijah Pittman and DeAndre Kane scored 16 points apiece for Marshall (11-15, 4-7). Dennis Tinnon added 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Thundering Herd, who committed 20 turnovers and lost for the sixth time in eight games.

Thomas entered the game averaging four rebounds but got some nudging from his coach.

''I challenged Adonis and told him that he needed to come up with 10 rebounds today and he was a monster in both halves,'' said Memphis coach Josh Pastner. ''He played at an extremely high level tonight and he continues to get better.''

Thomas, whose previous career best for points was 19 - reached on three occasions - had 15 in the opening half but fell silent after halftime along with his teammates. Memphis built a 17-point halftime lead then made just one field goal over the first eight minutes of the second half.

Despite its own scoring struggles, Marshall crept closer behind a burst of baskets from Tinnon and Pittman. Pittman's free throw brought the Thundering Herd within 46-41 with 10:44 remaining.

''We kind of broke down and gave them some second-chance points,'' Thomas said. ''We were horrible in transition defense in the second half and that allowed them to get some transition buckets, some offensive rebounds and putbacks.''

Then Memphis finally emerged from its slumber. Johnson scored off a rebound then made a 3-pointer to finish a 10-2 run for a 56-43 lead with 8:21 left.

Marshall, playing a ranked opponent at home for the first time in three seasons, got no closer than eight the rest of the game.

Earlier this season, the Tigers held off Marshall 73-72 in Memphis, but the Thundering Herd struggled on offense this time.

Marshall led by as many as seven early on then went scoreless over a stretch of six minutes. Thomas hit a pair of 3-pointers during an 11-0 run as Memphis surged ahead 27-15 before stretching it to 43-26 at halftime.

''We came out of the gates and made a few shots,'' said Marshall coach Tom Herrion. ''It was a little bit of fool's gold, I guess. We didn't get enough stops and went through a major drought.''

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