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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Tigers Don't Mind Missing Rematch With Tennessee

Tigers don't mind missing rematch
Players just happy to be back in Elite 8

By Jim Masilak and Scott Cacciola
March 24, 2007

SAN ANTONIO -- For a while Thursday night, it seemed as if the University of Memphis might get a rematch with cross-state rival Tennessee in the Elite Eight. The Vols led Ohio State by as many as 20 points before collapsing late and losing to the Buckeyes, 85-84.

"We would have liked to get that rematch and get a chance to beat them, but we're happy to be in the Elite Eight," sophomore forward Robert Dozier said.

Freshman point guard Willie Kemp, a high school teammate of Vols forward Wayne Chism at Bolivar Central High, said he sympathized with his friend following such a tough loss.

"They had a great season. I know they had a big lead last night, but they couldn't hold it," Kemp said. "We would have loved to play Tennessee or Ohio State. We knew we were gonna have to play one of those teams. It really didn't matter which one."

While some Tigers were disappointed to miss out on a chance to avenge a 76-58 regular-season pasting in Knoxville, sophomore guard Chris Douglas-Roberts said he was too busy enjoying a dramatic win over Texas A&M to give the other game a second thought.

"I didn't even watch the game," Douglas-Roberts said. "Everybody kept calling me, saying Tennessee was up 20, but I wasn't trying to hear it. I kept hanging up on them."

Everyone's against us

Memphis coach John Calipari spent much of Friday's press conference discussing why he thinks people, whether in the media or elsewhere, might be disappointed to see the Tigers advance deep into the NCAA Tournament.

"We're not in a (Bowl Championship Series) league," he said. "We're not one of those schools that's supposed to do this."

So who, exactly, is it that's been pulling against the UofM?

Asked if he thought CBS would be happy to see Memphis in the Final Four, Calipari replied, with no small amount of sarcasm, "It's what CBS would like. They were so excited (George) Mason made it (last year)."

How about the NCAA?

No, Calipari said. The NCAA gave Memphis a No. 2 seed when "everybody thought we should have been three or four."

Calipari was certain of at least one entity that might have preferred to see Texas A&M in today's regional final as opposed to the Tigers: The Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

"Oh, they wanted us to go down. There were 27,000 Aggies in that building. They were everywhere," Calipari said. "So I don't blame the Chamber of Commerce for being mad."

More than 20,000 raucous Texas A&M fans filled the Alamodome for Thursday's game against the Tigers. The atmosphere could be a bit tamer today.

"I think (Texas A&M's loss) will even the playing field more in that situation," Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said.

Mary Ullmann Japhet, the associate executive director of external affairs for the San Antonio Sports Foundation, said about 4,200 tickets remained available for today's game at $52 apiece as of Friday morning.

The Alamodome seats about 30,050 for basketball.

"It's always nice to have a packed house, and we'll be hoping for a very good crowd," she said. "We anticipate it will be, but it won't be quite the crowd it would have been if A&M had been here."

Shirt tales

After fouling out late in Thursday's game against Texas A&M, Memphis forward Joey Dorsey watched the final few minutes from the bench wearing a tight white tank top instead of his jersey.

Dorsey, who was aware that people back home were wondering why he took his uniform top off, said he shed it because it was stained with blood from a cut.

"Everybody thought I took my jersey off because I was mad (I fouled out)," he said. "Coach told me the NCAA was upset with me because I took my jersey off. But I had a cut. ... I had a lot of blood on it so I took it off."

Bull Dozier

Calipari said Dozier completely changed the tenor of the Texas A&M game with a pair of early blocks in the second half.

"The reason we're in the Elite Eight is the way Robert Dozier is playing," Calipari said. "Obviously, the other guys are doing their thing, but we have no one else like Robert Dozier. For us to continue to play and play for another day, he's got to play."

Hindered by early foul trouble against the Aggies, Dozier sat out much of the first half, and Texas A&M center Ananas Kavaliauskas scored 13 points. Dozier limited him to four points in the second half.

"Athletic, go after balls, block some shots, get tough rebounds, things like that," Dozier said when asked what he did defensively.

Dozier probably will share the responsibility for guarding Ohio State's Greg Oden today with Dorsey.

"It's going to be a fun game, for me and Joey," Dozier said. "We're up to the challenge."

That's next semester

Oden is taking two classes this semester. One of them is sociology, the other is the history of rock 'n roll.

Asked if there was a section on Elvis Presley, Oden said, "Oh, yeah. There was a big Elvis section. He sang rockabilly, blues and really started it all."

Did Oden happen to learn where Elvis called home?

"I do not know where Elvis was from," the big man admitted.

Tournament tidbits

Memphis is 2-1 all-time against Big Ten Conference opponents in the NCAA Tournament, with all three previous meetings coming against Purdue. The Tigers beat the Boilermakers in the second round in both 1984 and 1995 and lost to Purdue in the second round in 1988. ... A Memphis victory over the No. 1-seeded Buckeyes would be their first over a higher-seeded opponent since beating Purdue in Austin in '95. The Tigers were seeded sixth that year, the Boilermakers third. Memphis, however, has only played two higher seeds since then, losing to No. 2 Arkansas in the Sweet 16 in '95 and to No. 2 Oklahoma State in the second round in 2004.

-- Jim Masilak: 529-2311
-- Scott Cacciola: 529-2773

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