Memphis dominant over Blue Raiders
By ROB HERBST, The Daily News, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, December 16, 2007 1:07 AM CST
NASHVILLE — For almost an entire half, Middle Tennessee hung with mighty Memphis in Saturday’s Sun Belt Classic opener.
For the final 25 minutes, Memphis showed why it’s ranked No. 2 in the country - remaining undefeated after it eventually overwhelmed the Blue Raiders 65-41 at the Sommet Center.
It wasn’t the debacle the Blue Raiders (3-5) endured at Tennessee last month, when they were crushed 109-40, but MTSU still shot a season-low 27 percent from the field.
“They did what a lot of teams are trying to do to us, which is pack it in, junk it up, hold the ball, try to make shots at the buzzer, try to get fouled,” Memphis coach John Calipari said. “The only thing I can tell my team is, ‘Let’s see if they can do that for 40 minutes.’ ”
With the Blue Raiders trailing only 28-22 with four minutes remaining in the first half, Memphis (7-0) took control.
MTSU went scoreless the rest of the first half and Memphis’ Andre Allen nailed a 3-pointer with five seconds remaining for a 35-22 halftime advantage.
“If we don’t make that 3, which was a broken play, maybe it’s a different ballgame,” Calipari said.
No Blue Raider scored in double figures as MTSU tried to slow the pace, but still committed 20 turnovers. Dino Hare, Theryn Hudson and Lexington Catholic product Demetrius Green all had eight points. Meanwhile, starting MTSU guards Kevin Kanaskie and Nigel Johnson were limited to a combined seven points on 2-of-12 shooting and nine turnovers.
“I love (Kanaskie and Johnson) to death, but they can’t play any worse offensively and they’ve made big shots for us,” MTSU coach Kermit Davis said. “Even with all that and the foul trouble, in the first half the game was right there.”
Still, it seems Sun Belt Conference teams have an answer for Memphis superstar freshman Derrick Rose. The highly acclaimed Chicago freshman tied a season low with four points Saturday; his other four-point game came against Arkansas State.
MTSU didn’t have an answer for 6-foot-9 forward Joey Dorsey, who had 11 points and 12 rebounds. Robert Dozier and Shawn Taggart also had 11 points.
“I don’t think I’ve played a game (at Memphis) yet, where (opponents) play out of their minds from the get-go,” Dozier said. “We were a little shaky early, but guys got it together.”