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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mufreesboro Post - MTSU falls to No. 2 Memphis

MTSU falls to No. 2 Memphis
By JOSH EZZELL - Dec. 14, 2007 - 9:40 p.m.
NASHVILLE — Shots just did not want to fall for MTSU Saturday night at Sommet Center.

That can be a very bad thing when you’re playing the No. 2 team in America in a nationally televised game on ESPN2.

Memphis shot 45 percent from the field and took advantage of poor MTSU shooting — the Blue Raiders hit a season-low 27 percent of their shots — in a 65-41 win before 18.071, which is an MTSU home-game record for attendance.

“As the game ended I knew we planned it exactly right,” said MTSU head coach Kermit Davis, whose squad dropped to 3-6. “We wanted to keep them in the 60s. … Memphis is an underrated defensive team. Everyone talks about how explosive they are, but they play tough defense. We were intimidated.”

This marks the fourth time this season MTSU has lost by double digits. Tennessee, Belmont and Houston also beat the Blue Raiders by double digits.

MTSU played Memphis tough for most of the first half and was tied with the Tigers at 16 with 9 minutes, 33 seconds remaining before intermission. The Tigers (8-0), however, responded with a 19-6 run to end the half. Andre Allen gave Memphis a lift with a 3-pointer with only three seconds remaining before halftime.

“Andre Allen makes that at the end,” Davis said. “We make one more shot or Dino (Hair) doesn’t miss that dunk it’s a different game.”

The Tigers scored the first four points of the second half within 30 seconds to set the tone. MTSU trailed by 17 at 39-22 and couldn’t get in the game. The Blue Raiders hit only 29 percent of their shots in the second half and scored 19 after intermission, which marks a season low for points in a half.

“We told them the first five minutes you can put this away,” Memphis head coach John Calipari said. “We’ve been through this before. It’s what we live with. When we play anybody we’re the biggest game they’ve got.”

MTSU went through a few droughts in the second half that prevented them from rallying. It went 3:26 with a bucket once, which prevented them it taking advantage of suspect shooting by Memphis. The Blue Raiders went 5:34 without a point later in the second half and found themselves in a 25-point hole at 61-36 as a result.

“We came out kind of flat (in the second half),” Davis said. “They came out with more energy than us.”

During the second drought MTSU missed seven shots and committed three turnovers before Theryn Hudson, who netted eight but was plagued by foul trouble, ended the cold streak with a dunk.

“(Pressure defense) hurt us,” said MTSU’s Kevin Kanaskie, who scored four points and led the Blue Raiders with seven rebounds. “It was hard to get in our offense. They sped us up.”

Demetrius Green and Hair scored eight apiece for MTSU, while Desmond “Boogie” Yates added five.

Robert Dozier, Joey Dorsey and Shawn Taggart scored each scored 11 for Memphis. MTSU held Chris Douglas-Roberts, who averages 20 per game, to five points. Derrick Rose, who nets 15.9 a contest, scored only four points.

“We just came out prepared,” Dozier said. “The guys got together in the second half and got through it.”

The Blue Raiders play host to Florida International 7 p.m. Tuesday in their Sun Belt Conference opener.

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