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Updated: Thursday, March 13, 2003 8:51 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(24) Memphis 62, South Florida 56
SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS
South Florida Bulls
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MEMPHIS TIGERS
Memphis Tigers
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LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Jeremy Hunt hit a pivotal 3-pointer with just under two minutes left and Rodney Carney sank three free throws in the final 22 seconds as No. 24 Memphis posted a 62-56 triumph over South Florida in a quarterfinal matchup of the Conference USA Tournament.

With Memphis (23-5) clinging to a 54-53 lead with 1:49 to go, Hunt took a pass from Antonio Burks and drained his only basket of the game. Burks added two free throws with 30 seconds to go and Carney sealed the victory by making 3-of-4 from the line in the waning moments.

The win was the 12th straight for the Tigers, who advance to play Louisville Friday in the semifinals.

"They're a good team and have a lot of different pieces," South Florida coach Seth Greenberg said of Memphis. "They have players that can beat you off the dribble, they can defend and they have guys that are not afraid to take the big shots. And they have a dominant inside player. They are a good team and well coached and have some toughness to them."

Will McDonald had 16 points and nine rebounds for South Florida (15-14). Jimmy Baxter added 13 and eight but the Bulls' starting forward tandem of Terrence Leather and Yusuf Baker had just 12 points and battled foul trouble.

The teams split a pair of games during the regular season but overall, Memphis holds a 15-3 edge in the all-time series.

"They are a great Memphis team and we have played them three times now and it's been a war every time," Greenberg said.

Neither team shot particularly well in the first half, which ended 30-30. The Bulls opened the second half with a 9-4 run and enjoyed a five-point cusion following a dunk by Baker with 14:52 remaining.

Memphis battled back and knotted the contest, 41-41, on a 3-pointer by Carney with 11:44 to go. After a free throw by Baxter, Chris Massie made three free throws around a jumper by Earl Barron for a 46-42 lead.

Memphis' lead was 53-47 with just over four minutes left when Baxter had back-to-back baskets. After a free throw by Memphis' Billy Richmond, McDonald converted a layup to slice the Bulls' deficit to 54-53.

The Tigers called timeout with two minutes to go and the end result was Burks finding Hunt for a 3-pointer. Reggie Kohn countered with a jumper for South Florida and the Bulls had a chance to tie but McDonald missed two free throws with 42 seconds remaining. Burks hit two from the line 12 seconds later for a 59-55 edge and Carney padded the advantage with his free throws down the stretch.

Memphis shot just 37.5 percent (19-of-53) and committed 15 turnovers but held a 43-38 edge on the boards.

South Florida shot just 36 percent (21-of-59), including 1-of-15 from 3-point range. The Bulls also hurt themselves at the line, missing half of their 26 free throws.

"We just had a bad day shooting, it happens all the time," Kohn said.

McDonald had 11 of his points in the opening half.


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