Rick McCann: Memphis sweeps conference awards
TULSA, Okla. — Memphis swept Conference USA men's basketball's two top individual honors. Can a complete sweep be next?
Joe Jackson of the Tigers received conference Player of the Year honors and Josh Pastner was chosen as Coach of the Year. Memphis begins the conference tournament Thursday as the No. 1 seed.
Jackson is a 6-foot-1 junior guard playing college basketball in his hometown.
He had double-figure points in 25 of 31 games this season and led Memphis in scoring (13.8) and assists (4.9). He also has a team-high 54 steals and was second on the team in free throw shooting at 74.3 percentt.
The all-conference first team pick is looking to become the first player to win three consecutive tournament MVP awards. He's already the first two two in a row.
Pastner led Memphis to a 27-4 record and first place in the C-USA regular season with a 16-0 mark. The only undefeated teams in conference play this season were Memphis, Gonzaga (West Coast) and Norfolk State (MEAC).
He is 102-33 in four Memphis seasons with two NCAA tournament appearances and one trip to the National Invitation Tournament.
Memphis begins the C-USA tournament with a 7 p.m. meeting in the BOK Center against the winner of Wednesday's late game between Marshall and Tulane.
The Tigers are ranked No. 20 this week by The Associated Press.
HERD RECORD: Marshall's women fell to UTEP in the first round Wednesday (70-59), but it was a record-breaking day for Shay Weaver of the Thundering Herd.
Weaver's 3-point shot from the left corner with 24 seconds left in the game was her 69th of the season, the most ever by a Marshall women's player. The sophomore from Arlington, Texas, surpassed the record of 68 set by Kizzy Hart in 2010.
SMALL CROWD: Attendance for the Marshall-UTEP matchup in the Tulsa Convention Center that seats about 9,000 for basketball wasn't announced, but an official count was about 100 people in the seats. More fans were there for the first game of the session between UCF and Houston, but several busloads of school kids left before the Marshall game.
Marshall had about one dozen fans in the crowd and the UTEP band of about 40 members boosted its support to about 75.
The Marshall band wasn't there, so a recording of "Sons of Marshall" was played on the public address system.
ON THE TUBE: Thursday men's tournament games at 1, 3:30, 7 and 9:30 p.m. will be televised on the CBS Sports Network that is Ch. 174 on Comcast cable in Huntington.
SMART GUYS: C-USA brainiest men's players were rewarded with spots on the All-Academic Team. Rice and UTEP led the way with two players selected. All-Academic Team members are required to have at least a 3.2 GPA and be starters or key reserves for their teams.
Seth Gearhart, Rice, Soph., 3.21, Economics.
Austin Ramjak, Rice Jr., 3.57, Psychology.
Ben Cherry, Tulane, Sr., 3.61, Marketing.
Cedrick Lang, UTEP, Soph., 3.20, Communications.
McKenzie Moore, UTEP, Soph., 3.25, Undecided.
Sports editor Rick McCann covers Marshall men's basketball for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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