January 14, 2007
AS THE GAME TURNED
There were so many moments Saturday when the game seemed to hang in the balance, but perhaps the most critical was midway through the second half when sophomore guard Chris Douglas-Roberts took over. With Southern Miss leading 54-50, Douglas-Roberts drove to the lane and made a tough leaner. Then, after Jarvis Hill missed a 3-pointer, Douglas-Roberts created space and confidently stroked a three to give Memphis a 55-54 lead. The Tigers never trailed after that.
AS THE ROTATION TURNED
With the fouls piling up in the first half -- five Memphis players had two fouls by halftime -- the Tigers used their "big" lineup with 6-9 Joey Dorsey and 6-11 Kareem Cooper more than in any other game this season. Southern Miss had a hard time containing that lineup toward the end of the first half, with Dorsey getting two dunks in a stretch of 1:20. The second came off a high-low play, with Cooper going out to the 3-point line and feeding Dorsey for an easy bucket.
This is an unusual "Rim Gem," but given the context of the game, there was no prettier play than Dorsey, a 46 percent free-throw shooter, making two with 11:05 remaining. Of the 46 free throws Memphis shot, there were none bigger than when Dorsey stepped to the line for a one-and-one and Southern Miss leading 50-45. Had Dorsey missed the front end, the Golden Eagles would have had a chance to gain their biggest lead of the game. Instead, Dorsey drew the Tigers within three.
HIDE YOUR EYES
Southern Miss coach Larry Eustachy put on an ugly display Saturday, drawing a technical foul for arguing a call with 10:35 left. Douglas-Roberts converted both free throws to bring Memphis within 51-49. Another comment with 2:31 remaining earned Eustachy a second technical and an ejection. Eustachy, who was slow to leave the court, bumped official Larry Rose and a security guard on his way out. At the time, Memphis was ahead just 67-60, and there was plenty of time for a Southern Miss comeback. Instead, Douglas-Roberts made two free throws to essentially seal the victory.
One statistic showed exactly what kind of game this was. Memphis had just five assists Saturday on 19 field goals, meaning the Tigers got almost all their points off one-on-one drives to the basket and free throws rather than drive-and-kick plays.
"It's all new to Willie Kemp, and I'm going to play Willie as much as I can play him, but if the game is in the balance and he's a little shaky, we've got to win the game. He understands that. He was cheering for Andre and talked to him after the game." -- Memphis coach John Calipari on the point guard situation with Kemp, who played 16 minutes and Andre Allen, who ran the team during the crucial second-half minutes.
ODDS and ENDS
Douglas-Roberts confirmed Saturday that he sprained his right ankle in Thursday's 79-69 victory over Houston and that it bothered him early Saturday. Douglas-Roberts scored just four first-half points but finished with 23. "I was thinking about it too much," Douglas-Roberts said. "But the second half, I overcame it and played through the pain."
Southern Miss junior Demar Dotson has a unique quirk to his game. On every free throw attempt, he takes nearly the full 10 seconds allowed by rule before releasing the ball. Dotson's deliberate pre-shot routine is the same every time: He spins the ball off the floor, takes three dribbles, holds it, pauses and drops it down to his knees before coming to a shooting position. It was effective Saturday, as Dotson made 4-of-5.
Tigers vs. UAB at FedExForum, Tuesday, 8 p.m.
-- Dan Wolken