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Monday, December 24, 2007

Tigers Replay

Tigers replay
Sunday, December 23, 2007

As The Game Turned

After senior forward Joey Dorsey committed his second foul with 12:06 left in the first half, the Tigers struggled for the next 10 minutes and found themselves behind 35-27. Without Dorsey to serve as a defensive backstop, Georgetown made 14 of its first 22 field goal attempts and appeared to have everything going its way. But the Tigers found life in the final minutes of the first half, with a 3-point play from freshman guard Derrick Rose sparking a 16-5 run to end the half. The run included second-chance buckets by Robert Dozier and Chris Douglas-Roberts and a dunk by Dozier near the buzzer for a 43-40 lead. Though Memphis made just one of its first 11 shots in the second half, the Tigers took control with a 9-0 run capped off by a Douglas-Roberts 3-pointer and a breakout dunk off a steal with 12:16 to go. After taking a 54-46 lead, the Tigers never looked back and led by double-digits for the final seven minutes.

As the rotation turned

Though Memphis' starters went almost the entire second half, the backups were effective in keeping things afloat when called on late in the first half. After Dorsey picked up his second foul and sophomore Shawn Taggart his third, coach John Calipari turned to Pierre Niles, who played a solid four minutes. Niles had to come out of the game briefly for a bloody nose, giving sophomore Hashim Bailey a chance to get up and down the court a few times. Other backups, however, did not play as much as they are accustomed to. Sophomore guard Doneal Mack, who averages 13.7 minutes per game, played just three. Senior guard Andre Allen played five minutes, well below his average of 15.6. And Willie Kemp played half as much as usual, getting in for eight minutes, though he was the most effective of the three, going 1-of-1 from the field and collecting two assists.

Rim gems

Early in the game, Dorsey was having a difficult time finishing layups due to the physical play officials were letting go. But with 13:19 left in the first half, Dorsey left no doubt. Kemp, who showed off a quick first step several times Saturday, got into the lane for what appeared to be a layup attempt. Instead, Kemp threw the high lob to Dorsey for an alley-oop dunk that gave Memphis a 9-7 lead.

Hide your eyes

Free-throw shooting wasn't a problem for the Tigers Saturday. Memphis made 22-of-29 from the line. Georgetown, however, wasn't so fortunate. The Hoyas went 12-for-23, below their season average of 58 percent. Though that sounds bad, there were really only two culprits. Forward DaJuan Summers went 3-for-9 from the line, while forward Vernon Macklin went 0-for-4.

Scorer's table

Long-range shooting wasn't much of a factor either way. Georgetown took just 14 3-pointers, making three, while the Tigers went 5-for-15. In the second half, the teams combined for just 10 3-point attempts. Typically, both teams rely on the 3-pointer more than that. The Hoyas came into the game averaging 21.8 attempts per game, and Memphis took 24.6 per game before Saturday.

Lockerroom chatter

"Why do you play Georgetown? Why did we want to schedule the game? Because I knew everybody said there was this blueprint that would beat us, which is play very deliberate offensively, pass the ball, cut, move, take shots late in the shot clock and then on defense, sagging, man-to-man, switch, play zone, make it hard and then rebound the ball. That is Georgetown to a T, so we needed to play them to say,'OK, now we're playing this team.' ...That blueprint everybody saw, I'm not sure it's it. Maybe, maybe not." -- Calipari

Odds and ends

Multiple players praised the four-minute effort of Niles in the first half. Though the little-used sophomore didn't have much to show for it in the box score, he ate up important minutes as Dorsey and Taggart sat through foul trouble. Niles also had a nice bounce-pass into Douglas-Roberts, who drew a foul. "Once Joey got in foul trouble, and I seen Tag wasn't having a good time, I said I have to come in and play hard and stepped my game up to another level," Niles said. "I think I performed all right. I snatched one ball but didn't come up with it. I didn't play to my abilities."

Briarcrest junior guard Leslie McDonald and Mitchell sophomore guard Mardracus Wade -- both top 50 players in their respective classes -- were among the recruits spotted sitting behind the Tiger bench Saturday.

Though the Tigers were higher-ranked and favored by Las Vegas oddsmakers, they pulled out the underdog card Friday night at the team's pre-game meal. "Everyone picked us not to win this game, and that was a spark," Dorsey said. "It was a spark for us to get us amped up for this game. We did not feel the pressure because everyone put it on Georgetown to win the game."

Players scattered after the game to return home for a short Christmas break. Calipari gave the team off until Christmas night, when players are expected to return and begin preparations for next Saturday's game against No. 19 Arizona. For some players, it was the first chance to return home since last Christmas. "It's going to be good going back to Boston for the first time in about a year," Anderson said.

Dozier came into the game struggling more than anyone from the free-throw line, making just 7-for-18 on the season. But Dozier, who is 67.9 percent from the stripe for his career, said he found a technical flaw in his stroke recently and worked to correct it. "It's just a little mechanics," Dozier said. "I've been holding the ball a little too low when I'm shooting my free throws. I've got to hold it up a little higher. That's the biggest thing for me."

Looking ahead

Tigers vs. Arizona, Saturday, 9 p.m.

-- Dan Wolken and Jim Masilak

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