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Friday, November 03, 2006

U of M Cruises Past LOC Magicians

U of M cruises past Magicians

Tigers 113, LeMoyne-Owen 63
By Dan Wolken
November 3, 2006

One minute and three seconds remained in the first half Thursday when University of Memphis point guard Andre Allen chased down a loose ball under the LeMoyne-Owen goal. His momentum carrying him out of bounds, Allen looked at the nearest referee and screamed for a timeout. Only later did Allen realize his mistake: That an off-season rule change no longer allows players to keep possession by calling for time.

It was a moment everybody on the Tigers' side could laugh about after their 113-63 destruction of LeMoyne-Owen in an exhibition game at FedExForum. But it drove home the point Tigers coach John Calipari has been making since his team began practice Oct. 13: It's not last season anymore.

Though Memphis didn't have much more trouble with LeMoyne-Owen than Tennessee -- which beat the Magicians 126-66 on Tuesday -- the Tigers showed some rust, shot the ball poorly from outside and tired more easily than Calipari expected.

On the other hand, the Tigers revealed facets of their identity that they expect to carry them through this season: Balanced scoring, superior offensive rebounding and easy buckets off their full-court press.

"We were a little rusty, but we expected that for the first game," sophomore guard Chris Douglas-Roberts said after scoring 11 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists. "We didn't play too good. I feel we played to the level of our competition, but that's what the first game is for, to see how we are against another team, see what we need to work on. We did do that."

Though Memphis didn't give the estimated crowd of 9,500 too much to worry about two weeks before the real season opener against Jackson State, Calipari said he "wasn't very happy" in the post-game locker room.

"We've got a long way to go," Calipari said, "but there were some good signs."

Among them would be Memphis scoring the game's first 10 points, pressing LeMoyne-Owen into 33 turnovers, leading 59-34 at halftime and increasing the advantage from there.

The Tigers grabbed 28 offensive rebounds, dished out 28 assists on 47 baskets and had seven players score in double-figures, led by junior center Joey Dorsey's 22 points.

On the other hand, Memphis made just 5-of-29 from the 3-point line, struggled early from the free-throw line and allowed the Magicians to score some unexpected points early because of shoddy work on the defensive glass.

"We played pretty good to my eyes," sophomore guard Antonio Anderson, who had 12 points, six assists and six steals, said. "We just came out there and worked on the press and played defense. That's what coach wanted us to do. That's what we did. Unfortunately we didn't shoot the ball too well, but that happens."

Calipari wasn't upset about the lack of 3-point proficiency, but he was perturbed that LeMoyne-Owen played primarily in a zone defense, which didn't give the Tigers much chance to work on their basic driving attack.

"I'm disappointed they played zone the whole game," Calipari said. "These exhibition games, you're trying to get better, and I wanted our young guys to get into our motion. They played man-to-man twice, and we shot two layups, so I can understand why you play zone. But I had to start throwing the ball right into the post every time so we didn't have to get our young guys thinking too much."

The biggest beneficiary of that strategy was Dorsey, who didn't need to venture far from the paint to convert 10-of-12 field goals.

Junior forward Robert Dozier also had a strong night against the undersized Magicians, scoring 14 points with nine rebounds.

Former Booker T. Washington star Taurean Moy scored 20 points for LeMoyne-Owen on 5-of-11 from the 3-point line.

-- Dan Wolken: 901-529-2365

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