Memphis-G'town is main event of big hoops Saturday
Derrick Rose and No. 2 Memphis will need to have their 'A' game on Saturday when fourth-ranked Georgetown visits in a pivotal non-conference showdown.
That's the kind of effort he figures No. 2 Memphis will need to beat No. 4 Georgetown at home Saturday, the biggest must-see on a day full of intriguing matchups.
Additionally, fifth-ranked Texas faces No. 10 Michigan State in Auburn Hills, Mich., No. 12 Tennessee visits No. 24 Xavier, and two-time NCAA champ Florida visits Ohio State in a rematch of last season's NCAA title game, though both are without the major players who got them there.
Most coaches would agree their teams are far from being finished products this time of year. "Our players have been pretty open to the fact we have a lot of work to do," Texas coach Rick Barnes said Thursday, yet he has one of the hottest teams.
Texas' most impressive victories have come away from home, at former No. 1 UCLA and in Newark vs. then-No. 7 Tennessee, thanks in large part to sophomore point guard D.J. Augustin, who is averaging 19.9 points on 51% shooting. Augustin is making an early case to win the Bob Cousy Award, bestowed on the nation's top point guard. Michigan State showcases its own high-profile guard in Drew Neitzel, averaging 14.5 points.
Calipari sees his game against Georgetown and imposing 7-2 center Roy Hibbert as a potential step toward a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. "We're trying to get a high seed, and the only way anyone does that is by scheduling like this out of conference," he said.
Consequently, he was pushing leading scorer Chris Douglas-Roberts, who averages 16.7 points, and reserve Shawn Taggart to pick up the pace Thursday, a day after a physical game at Cincinnati.
"You've got to play at a better pace with a vein popping out of your neck," Calipari said he told them. There may be an added sense of urgency with No. 19 Arizona stopping by Dec. 29, the last ranked team Memphis will play before opening its Conference USA schedule.