Chris Crawford and Joe Jackson, two of Memphis' better players who had been struggling, scored 18 and 15 points, respectively, and the 19th-ranked Tigers avoided losing all three games in the Battle 4 Atlantis, beating Northern Iowa 52-47 on Saturday.
Memphis (3-2) was one of four ranked team in the regular-season tournament, but it was the only one not to reach the semifinals and things didn't look so great late in the first half against the Panthers, who led 26-12 with 4:34 to play.
Crawford, who had 12 rebounds, hit a 3-pointer to start a 10-0 run that closed the half and Jackson ended the spurt with another 3 to make it 26-22.
The Tigers never really took control in the second half but they grabbed the lead for good with 4:04 left when Crawford scored on a layup to make it 42-41. Jackson's three-point play after a bad turnover by Northern Iowa's Deon Mitchell made it 48-41 with 36 seconds left. Crawford hit two free throws with 13 seconds to go to make it 52-44.
Mitchell led the Panthers (3-3) with 18 points and five assists, but Northern Iowa shot 31.4 percent (16 of 51), including going 7 of 27 (25.9 percent) from 3-point range.
Jackson, considered one of the better point guards in the country, entered the game with 12 assists and 11 turnovers and was averaging 8.8 points for the season. Coach Josh Pastner only played him 7 minutes in the 78-65 consolation semifinal loss to VCU - none in the second half.
Crawford came in averaging 7.3 points and was shooting 31 percent overall and 21 percent on 3s. He was 6 for 10 on Saturday and made 4 of 6 from 3-point range.
The Tigers, who lost 84-75 to Minnesota in the first round, had 15 turnovers against Northern Iowa, many of them unforced against the Panthers' zone.
Northern Iowa lost 51-46 to No. 2 Louisville in the first round and 66-60 in the consolation semifinals.