MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — James Wiseman, the nation’s top-rated recruit, had 28 points and 11 rebounds as No. 14 Memphis beat South Carolina State 97-64 on Tuesday night.
Fellow freshman Precious Achiuwa added 14 points and eight rebounds for Memphis (1-0). Wiseman connected on 11 of 14 shots and blocked three shots before checking out for good midway through the second half.
Ian Kinard led South Carolina State (0-1) with 13 points, and Jahmari Etienne scored 11.
Memphis controlled all aspects of the game, from rebounding to defense. By the early minutes of the second half the Tigers’ lead had reached 21, and they continued to stretch the advantage while coasting the rest of the way.
It didn’t take long for Wiseman, who missed the entire preseason dealing with injuries, to show why he was the top prize in the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class. From the opening play, when he scored inside, to alley-oops and rebound putbacks, Wiseman dominated.
But at least for the first half, the Bulldogs stayed in the game thanks to early 3-point shooting and Memphis’ inability to connect from outside the arc. The Tigers missed their first six shots from 3-point range.
Still, Wiseman was the key. By halftime, he already had 20 points and eight rebounds. Memphis’ defense had held South Carolina State to 39.3% shooting, even after the Bulldogs made their first five shots.
All of that translated to a 50-32 lead for the Tigers at halftime.
South Carolina State: It’s doubtful the Bulldogs will face as tough a challenge as they did in the season opener. No other teams on South Carolina State’s schedule are in the Top 25. The Bulldogs, a member of the MEAC, are picked fifth in the conference preseason poll.
Memphis: The game was the perfect opening act for a Memphis team that has plenty of promise because of the touted recruiting class. Coach Penny Hardaway started five freshmen and the Tigers worked the opening set to Wiseman and kept feeding him.
South Carolina State: Hosts Bob Jones University on Friday.
Memphis: Hosts the University of Illinois-Chicago on Friday.