MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis Tigers guard Joe Jackson made something of a late New Year's resolution: He was not going to lose on his 22nd birthday on Saturday.
So with his team down 42-31 with 13:41 left to play, Jackson had to do something incredible and he did, leaping to block the shot of 7-foot-1 Gonzaga Bulldogs center Przemek Karnowski at the rim.
That keyed an 11-2 run that got Memphis back in a game the No. 24 Tigers would win over No. 23 Gonzaga, 60-54,Saturday night at FedExForum.
"Shaq (Goodwin) has a bad habit of gambling," Jackson said of the Memphis forward. "I know that's John Stockton's son (guard David Stockton with the ball) and I'm pretty sure he can make that pass. So I just tried to make a play on the ball and told myself not to get dunked on. I'm what, 5-8? He's 7-2."
Jackson is listed at 6-1, which is probably generous, but his point was made. A big play was needed and it sent a charge through the building.
"You could just feel it from the crowd," said Bulldogs forward Sam Dower (18 points and eight rebounds). "Big momentum change for them."
Still, Gonzaga recovered well enough to hold a nine-point lead, 52-43, when Dower hit a layup with 5:15 to play. But from there the Tigers closed with a 17-2 run, scoring eight of their points at the free-throw line.
A jumper by guard Kevin Pangos gave the Bulldogs a 54-50 lead with 3:20 to play. But they would not score again as the Memphis defense clamped down. The Bulldogs trailed 55-54 when they got the ball with 1:04 to play. The possession ended in a shot clock violation, with 35 seconds left in the game, and the Tigers made 5 of 6 free throws to seal the victory.
"They definitely stepped up their defense at the end," Dower said.
Guards Michael Dixon and Chris Crawford led Memphis (18-5) with 11 points each. Guard Joe Jackson had 10 points and forward Shaq Goodwin had 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
"These are the kinds of games you've gotta win to be a great team," said Dixon, who scored all 11 points in the second half and had the team's only three field goals (seven points) over about a nine-minute stretch.
Gonzaga (21-4) had its seven-game winning streak stopped. Karnowski and guard Gerard Coleman scored 12 each.
Memphis had a huge advantage on the glass: 44-28. The Bulldogs outscored the Tigers 38-28 in the paint.
"They are just big, and athletic and strong," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "Guys went out and just got the ball better than we did. We're better than that. For the most part, I thought we did a good job executing our offense. We were trying to be patient, not shooting as many threes in transition because we didn't want to get their transition going."
Gonzaga took a three-point halftime lead and extended it to 12, 42-30, at the 14:35 mark on a putback by Dower. That followed two Gonzaga free throws that were the result of a flagrant two foul call on Tigers power forward Dominic Woodson. The play sent Karnowski to the floor and to the bench for a short while. By rule, Woodson was ejected from the game.
"Dominic did go down there and apologize," Tigers coach Josh Pastner said. "He did not mean to intentionally hurt him on that foul."
Gonzaga came into the game as the nation's second most accurate team from behind the arc (41.8 percent), but shot just 12.5 percent (2-for-16).
"Some of those were at the end of the clock, so that's a little deceiving," Few said. "But we also got some decent looks we just missed."
Jackson declined to elaborate on what his teammates might have planned for the rest of his birthday, but he did say, "This is the best one. I don't care if we win by half a point, as long as we win."
NOTES: Memphis brought a 5-2 series record into Saturday's game. ... Since the 2000-01 season, the Tigers and Bulldogs have combined for 22 NCAA tournament berths (nine for Memphis, 13 for Gonzaga). ... Gonzaga ranks second nationally in 3-point field goal percentage at 41.8. Three players are shooting over 40 percent: G/F Drew Barham (47.9 percent), G Gary Bell Jr. (45.7 percent) and G Kevin Pangos (43.4 percent). ... Barham is from Memphis and played for the Tigers from 2009 to 2012. ... The game was televised on ESPN as part of the network's "College GameDay" coverage. The last time "GameDay" stopped in Memphis was in 2008 for No. 1 Memphis vs. No. 2 Tennessee.