MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis freshman forward Shaq Goodwin has been working on a specific skill recently. "Finishing plays around the basket," he said. Goodwin and the No. 21 Tigers finished off another regular season championship in their last year as a member of Conference USA, using balance and unselfishness to notch an 89-73 win Saturday over Southern Mississippi at FedEx Forum. Goodwin scored 19 points, raked in five rebounds and dished out five assists as Memphis (24-3, 13-0 C-USA) won its 18th straight game since an 87-78 loss to Louisville Dec. 15. Sixth man Chris Crawford added 19 points, D.J. Stephens tallied a career-high 16, Joe Jackson hit for 15 and Adonis Thomas contributed 12 points. The Tigers canned 50 percent of their field goal tries, including 11 of 24 from the 3-point line, and drew assists off 25 of their 29 field goals in wrapping up their eighth straight conference title. Memphis is leaving for the Big East Conference next year. "We all feed off each other," Jackson said. "This group is so different from last year. We pay more attention to detail, we're way more unselfish ... we've got four or five guys on the floor at all times who can pass, shoot, dribble and score." Dwayne Davis was magnificent in defeat for the Golden Eagles (21-7, 10-3) with a game-high 28 points, 18 in the first half. Jerrold Brooks netted 16 and Jonathan Mills scored 11 for USM, which likely saw its hopes of an at-large NCAA Tournament bid end. "That's a really good team we beat today," Tigers coach Josh Pastner said. "They run really good stuff. That's an NCAA (tourney) team." The 6-foot-9, 246-pound Goodwin, who finished a point off his career high of 20, set on Dec. 5 against Ohio, got the Tigers going with a rare four-point play with 7 minutes left in the first half. Intentionally fouled by Neil Watson as he muscled in a transition layup, Goodwin converted two free throws. On Memphis' ensuing possession, Stephens threw down the 107th dunk of his career -- his elbows were above the rim as he did so -- to fire up the crowd of 17,857 and complete a six-point possession that gave the Tigers a 25-20 lead. "It ranks up there," Stephens said when asked how it rated among his slams. "I had to go up there and get it." Memphis hit the Golden Eagles with a 15-2 spurt over the first half's final 3:59 to establish a 46-30 halftime advantage. Crawford drilled his fourth 3 of the half, then drew a foul while shooting a 3 and made all three shots to cap the run. Pastner was frantically trying to call timeout -- he hadn't used his mandatory first half timeout yet -- but his players never saw him and Crawford sank his foul shots to finish off a 15-point first half. "I've got a lot of confidence right now," Crawford said. "When I hit that first one, I feel like I can make any shot." Jackson's 3-pointer with 16:31 remaining upped the margin to 57-34. Southern Miss got the deficit down to 72-60 with 8 minutes left, but the Tigers quickly rattled off six straight points and were never bothered again. Stephens also rejected five shots for Memphis, which also received seven assists from Geron Johnson. The Golden Eagles actually outboarded the Tigers 39-35, but converted just 25 of 66 shots as Memphis' length and effort forced them into a spate of bad misses. With four regular season games and the conference tournament remaining before the NCAA tourney, the Tigers are playing to see how high they can raise their seed. "It's hard to win 18 games in a row," Pastner said. "You don't take them for granted. I get texts every day from people in the profession, telling me how hard this is. What these young men have accomplished is amazing, but there's still a lot of basketball left." Notes: Southern Miss entered this season with one of the least experienced teams. It returned just four players with a combined six years of Division I experience, tying Lipscomb, Mississippi State and Rice at the list's top. ... Until Memphis' 89-76 win Feb. 9 in Hattiesburg, the previous seven meetings between the Golden Eagles and Tigers had been decided by a combined 24 points. ... Memphis entered the day with 350 wins, the third-most in Div. I since the 21st century started. Duke (381) and Kansas (380) rank first and second, respectively.
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