I have to admit that right after the game I was relieved to have walked out of Spokane with a win, but didn't feel to good about the last 10 minutes of regulation. Yesterday, I went back and watched the tape again and my attitude changed. Plus it allowed me to look at the game as whole not just focusing in on those "10 minutes".
So what did I see?
The first half was sloppy for both teams, but Memphis' defense was impressive. If Memphis had just been a bit more careful with the ball they could have enjoyed a 12 or 13 point lead at the break. Joey Dorsey was great. Robert Dozier was strong (unfortunately, Robert stopped playing at half time). Hunt and CDR had a few too many turnovers. While Hunt got burned a few times on the defensive side, I thought he was playing hard.
Coming out of the break was fantastic. Antonio Anderson probably played his best 7 to 8 minutes of the season (I didn't see the Tulsa game when he put up some nice numbers). Anderson had three very nice jumpers and I know he missed two later on in the half, but they were reasonable shots to take considering he had had the hot hand.
My disappoint came in the last ten minutes when no one acted like they wanted to step up and try to score. I do not think the Tigers recorded a single assist in the last 10 minutes. The game turned into a one on one match up and Gonzaga had plenty of time to react and shut down the lane forcing difficult shots. Where on earth was Robert Dozier? He had once nice play in the 2nd half when he flashed into the lane and hit a nice 15 footer from the free throw line. Other than that and I don't remember a single stand out thing he did on the offensive side.
I'm perplexed why Cal held Jeremy Hunt out so long in the 2nd half. Let's face it. The Tigers really only have two guys who can turn on the offense when needed - Hunt and CDR. Chris did a pretty good job all game, but when the defense knows he is the only guy it is easy to collapse on him forcing hard shots.
The last ten minutes showed Memphis' greatest weakness. When the defense isn't forcing turnovers (which by that point Gonzaga had finally figured out how to protect the ball) and no one is hitting from the outside (Anderson missed two long jumpers and CDR missed one from the corner) there is almost no offense.
The offense in the latter stages and in overtime came from Hunt's very gutsy 3 point shots, from a set play where Dorsey got the ball inside and made a nice shot over the defender and from CDR slashing to the basket.
Don't get me wrong. I am thrilled. Once again I promote Jeremy Hunt as a the MVP of this team. CDR is very close, but without those two 3 point baskets the Tigers lose by 6 ot 7 points in overtime.
I was pretty happy with the bench. Andre Allen was ok in spots. I still think he isn't particularly a smart player. For instance, why foul Raivio when he is driving to the basket? The guy is automatic from the line. I mean 96% is automatic. There is a much greater probability that he misses a field goal opportunity. Allen should know this and just try and force a difficult shot, but not foul him.
I believe Cal had stressed this with the team because Gonzaga was the 6th best free throw shooting team in the nation and Memphis made a point not to foul very much. Memphis committed 19 fouls in 45 minutes versus Gonzaga's 26 fouls.
Allen also just shoots too much. He was 1 for 6 from the floor. Ok, the 3 pointer he hit in the 1st half was nice, but he was wide open. That is when he should shoot. Don't you think that opposing coaches want him to drive the lane and throw up a prayer? Why not? He can't shoot anyway. He is 34.6% from the field for the year. Only Clyde Wade is worse on the team and he has only taken 3 shots. The defense should try and foul Allen. Defensively that is a great strategy. (He is 48.4% from the free throw line for the season).
Ok, as long as I'm on free throws. What is the deal with this team? Memphis has three major players shooting less than 50% from the line. That is crazy. (Dorsey 44.8%, Kemp 43.3%, and Allen)
Ok, enough of that. I was really happy with the defense. Gonzaga did shoot the ball pretty good - 48%, but the defense was solid; 8 blocks and 11 steals by the Tigers.
So, can Memphis win the next four and finish undefeated in conference play? UTEP is the big one. I'm not too worried about SMU on the road, but you never know. I am glad that the next two are at home, because I want the Tigers focused when they go on the road and I think two at home will allow them to absorb the Gonzaga win and not get to cocky.