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Monday, February 26, 2007

Memphis 99, Rice 63

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Willie Kemp scored 20 points to help No. 7 Memphis beat Rice 99-63 on Thursday night and clinch its second-straight Conference USA title.

The victory extended Memphis' winning streak to 16 straight, longest in the nation. Memphis also has won 28 straight at home.

Memphis, which started the game 0-for-7 from 3-point range, ended up shooting 47 percent from outside the arc. Kemp hit four of his six 3-pointers.

Jeremy Hunt finished with 16 points for Memphis, while Antonio Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts added 14 each. Robert Dozier scored 10 points.

Anderson was also in charge of the defensive assignment on Rice guard Morris Almond, the conference's leading scorer, and third-best in the nation.

He is averaging 27.2 points, but was held to just 15. Almond was 5-for-14 from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds. Cory Pflieger scored 10 for the Owls.

The Tigers carried a 52-34 lead at the half after Hunt came off the bench to pull them out of an offensive funk with 12 first-half points, all of his field goals coming from 3-point range. Anderson added 11 points, while Douglas-Roberts scored 10.

Memphis struggled early when Rice went to a zone. The Tigers misfired from outside the defense, missing their first seven 3-pointers.

That allowed Rice to put together a 14-2 run, erasing an early 9-0 Memphis lead.

With Almond on the bench with Rice holding a 19-16 lead. Memphis went on a run hitting eight 3-pointers and building the lead to 21.

Memphis continued to maintain the lead in the second half as Kemp was the one who started connecting from 3-point range, assuring Memphis of repeating as the outright C-USA regular season champions.

The back-to-back titles marked the first time in school history that Memphis has won consecutive outright crowns.

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