January 12, 2007
AS THE GAME TURNED
With 5:49 to go in the first half, a 3-pointer by Robert McKiver -- one of five he made in the half -- brought Houston within 29-26. But just 10 seconds later, Memphis center Kareem Cooper scored on a lefty hook shot, starting an 18-4 run that would give the Tigers a 47-30 lead. Though another McKiver 3-pointer with 40 seconds left got Houston within 14 at halftime, the Tigers had a margin to work with. Sophomore guard Antonio Anderson scored six straight during the run on a 3-pointer, then on a 3-point play after he was fouled on a layup.
AS THE ROTATION TURNED
Usually, it's Memphis' starters that get in foul trouble, leaving lots of minutes for the bench. Thursday, it was the Tigers' top two reserves -- point guard Andre Allen and shooting guard Jeremy Hunt -- who picked up fouls early. Allen committed two fouls in three first-half minutes, and Hunt had two fouls in nine minutes. Forced to go with freshman Doneal Mack to pick up Hunt's minutes, Mack responded in the first half, scoring nine points in nine minutes on 3-of-3 from the field.
Jahmar Thorpe, Houston's 6-6 senior forward, has a broken bone in his left wrist and a sprained right wrist. Painful? You bet. But that didn't stop Thorpe from delivering the highlight-reel play of the game, following a missed 3-pointer by McKiver for a monstrous follow-up dunk with his right hand with 10 minutes remaining in the first half. The play brought Houston within 20-15.
HIDE YOUR EYES
Two of Memphis' most responsible players had off nights handling the ball. Sophomore guard Chris Douglas-Roberts, who scored 16 points, had six turnovers and no assists. Hunt had no assists and four turnovers, all in the first half. "That just doesn't happen," coach John Calipari said.
The Tigers' offense is designed to score points exclusively with layups, 3-pointers and free throws. Memphis essentially accomplished that Thursday, scoring 30 on 3-pointers and 40 points in the paint. The other nine came from the free-throw line.
"Joey's got the mindset now that all he wants to do is block shots, rebound and dunk balls. (If he continues), he's going to be a tough one to stop and we'll be a tough team to beat." -- Anderson, referring to junior forward Joey Dorsey, who had eight points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
ODDS AND ENDS
Douglas-Roberts appeared to injure his right ankle with 6:02 left in the first half when he took a long transition feed from Anderson, scored, drew a foul and then couldn't stop his momentum, nearly tumbling into seats near the basket. After he made the free-throw, Douglas-Roberts went to the bench to receive treatment. He came back with 2:07 left in the half.
Sophomore forward Robert Dozier came down hard on his right hip late in the game, but Calipari said the injury appeared minor.
Rod Strickland, the Tigers' director of student-athlete development, played at Hofheinz Pavilion during the 1985-86 season when he was a freshman at DePaul. Strickland's DePaul team beat Houston, 84-78.
Houston, whose RPI was 115th heading into Thursday's game, has played the 27th most difficult schedule in the country. Memphis' strength of schedule was 13th, according to Ken Pomeroy's calculations at kenpom.com.
Thorpe, whose injured wrists were wrapped with heavy tape, suffered a tough fall trying to block a Dorsey dunk in the second half and appeared to suffer a right foot injury. After going to the locker room, Thorpe came back in short order and made two 18-foot jumpers. He finished with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
Tigers at Southern Miss, Saturday, 7 p.m.
-- Dan Wolken