January 21, 2007
AS THE GAME TURNED
When Courtney Captain hit a 3-pointer with 17:16 left, giving East Carolina a 23-21 lead, the upset watch was legitimately on. Nothing was going right for Memphis, from free-throw shooting to defensive breakdowns to sloppy turnovers. But with 17:06 left, senior guard Jeremy Hunt drew a foul shooting a 3-pointer and made all three free throws, putting the Tigers back in front 24-23. It was pretty much all Memphis from there. The Tigers scored the next eight points, keying 21-4 run that gave Memphis a 15-point lead with 11:11 left.
AS THE ROTATION TURNED
Freshman Willie Kemp's point guard struggles are beginning to become a major issue. Kemp turned the ball over on Memphis' first two possessions, forcing coach John Calipari to pull him 42 seconds into the game in favor of Andre Allen. Kemp played just five minutes in the first half, while Allen manned the point for 17. Calipari said he will have to evaluate the point guard situation, especially given that Kemp has struggled in all three of the Tigers' C-USA road games. Kemp played just 12 minutes total Saturday. "He's got to figure it out. I've got to figure it out," Calipari said. "I've got to make it (simpler) for him. But let me just say, 'turnover, turnover, missed shot.' You've got to come out (after that)."
It took a while, but the Tigers finally executed a pretty play with 2:23 left. After a steal, sophomore guard Antonio Anderson led a 3-on-1 fastbreak. He had a number of options, including taking the ball himself or simply slowing it down to milk some time off the clock. Instead, he looked off his defender and lobbed an alley-oop pass up high for Joey Dorsey, who came in from the left block to jam it in and give Memphis a 57-39 lead. Minges Coliseum, which just a few minutes earlier had been full and boisterous, emptied out almost as soon as Dorsey's dunk hit the bottom of the net.
HIDE YOUR EYES
East Carolina's sagging defense suckered Memphis into taking too many 3-pointers. The Tigers made their first two for an early 6-0 lead but went 2-of-21 the rest of the way. Hunt went 1-for-6, Doneal Mack went 2-for-6, and Allen went 1-for-5. "They kind of collapsed in the lane so much, but we've got to take them because if we don't shoot (Calipari) is going to pull us out," Hunt said.
Memphis' free-throw shooting appeared to be getting better, but it regressed significantly early. The Tigers went 6-for-14 in the first half, with Mack the only Memphis player able to go 2-for-2 on any trip to the line. But even then, Mack went 0-for-2 on his first trip. Robert Dozier drew a foul to start the second half and front-rimmed both attempts. The Tigers regrouped, however, and hit their next 13. They finished 23-of-39.
"We had some guys struggle today but I like my team. I'm not trading with anybody I've seen on TV. We're fine. We have enough (depth) that I can just go to another guy until I figure out who's ready to go. And when we're all nine ready to go, we're pretty darn good. We just didn't hit it today." -- Calipari
ODDS AND ENDS
Leading scorer Chris Douglas-Roberts, who sat out due to a right ankle sprain, said it was difficult to watch the Tigers, especially given how much they struggled in the first half. Douglas-Roberts will have the ankle evaluated Monday to see if he might be able to play Wednesday against Tulsa. "It's hard watching games, I ain't gonna lie," Douglas-Roberts said. "I feel my ankle getting stronger, and hopefully I'll be back by next game. It's tough. I'm glad the game is over."
When Hunt shot three free throws to give Memphis the lead for good with 17:16 left, it seemed like a questionable call, especially to the 6,064 fans at Minges Coliseum. Hunt admitted after the game, he embellished his fall a bit. "I don't think it was (a foul)," Hunt said. "The ref asked me, 'Do you work on getting your leg kicked out like that?' It was a Reggie Miller trick."
Tigers vs. Tulsa, Wednesday, 8 p.m., at FedExForum
-- Dan Wolken