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Thursday, November 30, 2006

ASU's Banks Takes Best Shot Before Tigers Take Control

ASU's Banks takes his best shot before Tigers take control
No. 14 University of Memphis 86, Arkansas State 60

By Dan Wolken
November 30, 2006

It didn't matter whether Adrian Banks was off balance, four feet behind the 3-point line or being knocked to the ground by University of Memphis guard Antonio Anderson.
Regardless of the circumstances Banks faced in the first 10 minutes at FedExForum on Wednesday, the former Trezevant High star needed just one thing to keep Arkansas State in the game: The ball.

But Banks, the son of former Tiger Arthur Banks, could only do so much for so long. Despite 25 points and some acrobatics that lifted Arkansas State to an early lead over Memphis, the No. 14-ranked Tigers absorbed Banks' best effort and raced off to an easy 86-60 victory.
"You know, me being in my hometown, I had a lot of support from the people here and my coaches," Banks said. "They understand how it is, and my teammates, they understood how it is and leading up to this game, they just keep on pushing me and letting me know, I'm the man today."

There was no doubting that as Banks made six of his first nine field goals, giving ASU an 18-17 lead 7:39 into the game with an array of shots, including a pair of leaning 3-pointers and some nifty runners over Anderson, the Tigers' best defensive player.

"He was hitting a lot of tough shots, difficult shots," Memphis sophomore Chris Douglas-Roberts said. "He's a good player. We knew that before we came into the game.

"There's some guys we play like that this year, they're just good players and they have the ultimate green light. It's hard to check people like that."

Banks, who finished 11-for-21 from the field, admittedly tired out after his early spurt, and the Tigers (4-1) finally woke up after a sluggish start that could probably be attributed to a week layoff following their trip to the EA Sports Maui Invitational.

Memphis took a 26-20 lead on Anderson's 3-pointer from the top of the key 11 minutes into the game and then went on a 23-0 run that spanned both halves, expanding the margin to 55-26.

And the Tigers did it despite an off night shooting the ball from distance.

Memphis made just 4-of-25 from the 3-point line, scoring 52 points in the paint and 28 off the fast break.

Some second-half offensive lulls irked coach John Calipari, who didn't like seeing his team miss wide-open looks after Memphis broke the game open.

"It was a good effort coming off a trip back from Hawaii," Calipari said. "We did what we had to. They went zone in the first half and we drove the ball, shot some 3s, did some good stuff.

"The second half, we went five minutes of missing every shot, missing layups. We also had three or four turnovers for no reason and that's not how we do this. We finish games."

One early trademark of this Memphis team has been offensive balance. Four players scored in double-figures against ASU, led by Anderson's 17 points with five assists and no turnovers.

Senior guard Jeremy Hunt scored 15 off the bench on 6-of-9 shooting, and sophomore forward Robert Dozier had 13.

Once again, Memphis' ability to use nine players ultimately overwhelmed a less talented opponent in Arkansas State, which suddenly was even more short-handed when coach Dickey Nutt suspended starting forward Isaac Wells on Wednesday.

"I was proud of our guys, and I give a lot of credit to the University of Memphis," Nutt said. "There are not a lot of teams that will beat them this year. Memphis is talented at every position and as good as I have seen them in many years. Maybe the best I have seen as a team."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

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