MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Precious Achiuwa had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and No. 16 Memphis beat Arkansas-Little Rock 68-58 Wednesday night after star freshman James Wiseman was cleared by the NCAA to return to the court Jan. 12.
The game was played only hours after the NCAA ruled Wiseman, the Tigers 7-foot-1 center and last season’s top recruit, ineligible for the next 11 games for receiving impermissible benefits from Memphis coach Penny Hardaway. Wiseman’s family received $11,500 from Hardaway to help with moving expenses from Nashville to Memphis two years ago, before Hardaway became the Tigers’ coach. Wiseman played for East High, where Hardaway coached.
The NCAA considered Hardaway a university booster because he donated $1 million to the university in 2008.
Wiseman watched the game from the bench.
Markquis Nowell led the Trojans (3-2) with 16 points, while Ben Coupet Jr. added 12 points. Ruot Monyyong had 12 points and nine rebounds and Kamani Johnson finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
The game was sloppy throughout with both teams shooting under 43%. Little Rock committed 26 turnovers while Memphis had 19 miscues. The teams were a combined 8 of 31 from 3-point range.
By the midway point of the first half, Memphis (4-1) was 3 of 13 from the field and had missed all five of its 3-pointers while committing eight turnovers.
The Tigers were unable to overcome the anemic start until less than five minutes left in the half, with DJ Jeffries providing the spark with 15 points in the half. Memphis led 28-23 at the break.
Little Rock was within 55-53 with about five minutes left, but Memphis outscored the Trojans 13-5 the rest of the way.
Little Rock: After jumping to an early 9-0 lead, the Trojans defense played well enough to cause problems for Memphis. Little Rock stayed close, but the visitors struggled from the foul line, going 13 of 24.
Memphis: Memphis was a mess to start the game, missing its first eight shots, some of them way off the mark. Four turnovers added to the early misery. After taking the lead late in the first half, the Tigers never relinquished the advantage in the second half, although Little Rock kept the game close.
Little Rock: Travels to North Carolina State on Saturday
Memphis: Hosts Ole Miss on Saturday.