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‘They just absolutely beat us up.’ Charlotte 49ers blown out by Memphis, 76-52

For 20 minutes Wednesday, the Charlotte 49ers were in a position to beat Memphis and remain just one game out of first place in the American Athletic Conference.

But in the second half, Memphis found another gear and Charlotte simply couldn’t keep up, falling 76-52.

“If we take care of the ball and keep them off the glass, then we may have gone in there up five at halftime,” Charlotte coach Aaron Fearne said. “(The second half) we did not do what we were prepared to do.”

Memphis, which led 40-35 at halftime, outscored Charlotte 36-17 in the second half, as the 49ers didn’t score in the final 4 minutes, 35 seconds.

The Tigers didn’t look much like a team that had lost six of its previous nine games. And Memphis did much of its damage after the league’s top scorer, David Jones, left the game with an eye injury with nearly 17 minutes to play in the game.

Memphis was also playing without three key backups — point guard Jayhlon Young, wing Jayden Hardaway and center Jordan Brown — who were all out with injuries.

So in that decisive second half, the Tigers took it to Charlotte while down four key players.

“We played a team tonight that was very desperate,” Fearne said. “There’s obviously been a lot of talk in the media about the way they’re playing, and who’s playing and who’s playing hard and who’s not playing hard, came out and played really hard tonight. Got after us and we did not deal with that urgency that they displayed.”

Three who mattered

Jahvon Quinerly, Memphis: Quinerly was once a national name for his “Jelly Fam” scoop layups. He had 17 points, six assists and three steals for the Tigers Wednesday.

Igor Milicic Jr., Charlotte: Milicic made 6-of-12 shots and finished with 16 points, five rebounds.

Dishon Jackson, Charlotte: Jackson made 5-of-7 shots and had 10 points, nine rebounds, three assists.

Notable

South Florida (20-5, 13-1) now has a two-game lead in the AAC. Charlotte (17-9, 11-3) is next, followed by Florida Atlantic (20-6, 10-3) and SMU (19-7, 10-3). The top four teams receive a double-bye in the conference tournament next month in Fort Worth, Texas.

Charlotte was out-rebounded 38-20. Other than Jackson, who had nine rebounds, and Milicic, who had five, no other 49ers’ player had more than two rebounds. Memphis had 14 offensive rebounds, compared to four for Charlotte.

“We got absolutely smashed on the glass,” Fearne said. “They were more physical than us. They really got after us physically. They pushed us off the line, every single cut, they pushed us off every post catch. They just absolutely beat us up so we’re going to have to learn from that.”

Charlotte point guard Lu’Cye Patterson, who had put together a string of good games, got into early foul trouble and struggled Wednesday. He was 0-for-5 shooting in 16 minutes and didn’t score. He had one assist.

“Very difficult when you got your leading scorer [Lu’Cye Patterson] sitting on the bench with three fouls in the first three minutes of the game,” Fearne said. “It just puts you behind the eight ball big-time but it is what it is and we dealt with it. We did battle pretty hard that first half and did some pretty good things.”

Charlotte will play at Tulsa on Saturday night. Tulsa (13-12, 4-9) has lost four of its past five games.

Memphis’ David Jones, the league’s top scorer, left the game with a left eye injury early in the second half. He finished with 10 points on 3-for-5 shooting. He played 23 minutes.

He said it

“We played way too fast [pace wise]. We got overwhelmed by the environment, by the defensive scheme. We did not handle it very well.” — Fearne

PHOTOS: Charlotte 49ers at Memphis