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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

From UNC Basketball Update - Comments on Memphis

From UNC Basketball Update
News and game summaries from a life-long North Carolina Basketball fan(atic)

Heels Drop to No. 8 in Both Polls

Ouch. Heels go from 5th to 8th. Let's take a look at a few of the teams in front of us.

First of course is Ohio State. They are #1 after beating Wisconsin. We beat them earlier in the year, but they were without Oden. Speaking of Wisconsin, they lost their last two games and fell three spots in the polls. UNC lost to an extremely hot Maryland team and dropped three spots. #5 Florida has lost 2 of 3 and only fell two spots.

The Memphis Tigers are ahead of us at #6. I saw just a little bit of their game this weekend and they looked pretty sharp. However, their strength of schedule is close to 100!! I'm sorry, no team should be in the top 10 with that weak of a schedule. It is obvious the pollsters weight the number of losses very heavily and if you have a cream puff schedule, you will likely be ranked higher. And did I mention that one of the three Memphis losses was against Arizona. You know the team we drubbed in Tucson!
Posted by Robbie Allen @ 2/27/2007 12:48:00 PM

C-USA's League RPI Is Better Than Last Year's ( I beat you to it Dan, see my post from Feb 19, ed.)

League's RPI better than last year's

By Dan Wolken
February 27, 2007

While the perception nationally has been that Conference USA is weaker than it was a year ago, University of Memphis coach John Calipari disagrees. And he's got the numbers to back him up.

Just consider: Last season, Conference USA ranked 13th in the Ratings Percentage Index among all conferences. This year, Conference USA is ranked 11th.

Last year, the average RPI of the 12 teams was 170. This year, it's 152.

Last season, seven C-USA teams were ranked below 200 in the RPI. This year, just three teams are worse than that.

Several teams in the league have made big jumps in the RPI including Central Florida (from 190 to 109), Rice (from 218 to 154), Tulsa (from 203 to 126), Southern Miss (from 246 to 132) and Tulane (from 217 to 180).

So what Calipari wants to know is: Why does Memphis get less credit for its 14-0 league record currently with an average victory margin of 20.1 points than it did for finishing 13-1 last year with an average victory margin of 16.1?

"I'm hearing about this league stuff, and they tried that on us a year ago, and I think we did OK," Calipari said. "The only thing we can do is say, hey you're not giving us credit for this league. It's better than you think."

The biggest factor in the suffering perception of C-USA has been UAB and Houston having less impressive seasons than they did a year ago. UAB won't be going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years, and Houston is a long shot to get an NIT bid.

But purely from an RPI standpoint, Memphis has been far more impressive in its C-USA run this year than last. The question is, will that matter to the NCAA Tournament selection committee for seeding purposes?

According to Joe Lunardi, who does "Bracketology" for ESPN, Memphis is a No. 3 seed currently with an opportunity to move up to a No. 2 if the Tigers can win out. Meanwhile, Calipari will spend the next two weeks trying to make the case that his team's league record should be rewarded.

"Just about every coach that plays us says, you're better than you were a year ago," Calipari said. "And we were a No. 1 seed last year. I know all these other teams got way better, but we're better than we were a year ago according to the people that play us."

Douglas-Roberts honored

Memphis sophomore guard Chris Douglas-Roberts has won the C-USA player of the week award for the second time this season.

Despite several strong performances by other players last week, Douglas-Roberts got the honor for his performances in victories over Rice and Houston. Douglas-Roberts had 14 points and five assists in 18 minutes against Rice and 19 points with four steals against Houston. The Tigers' leading scorer made 13-of-23 field goals (56.5 percent) for the week.

Travel woes

After losing 66-64 at Tulsa on Saturday, the last thing UCF wanted to do was hang around town.

But the Golden Knights had a miserable time getting back to Orlando on Sunday due to flight cancellations and delays. After spending four hours at the ticket counter, the team finally went back to its hotel. Then, the team had to split up and fly stand-by to get back to Orlando. All told, the trip took nearly 24 hours, which cut short a day of preparation for Wednesday's second-place showdown with Houston.

"We had a 4:45 (a.m.) wake-up call to get to the airport by 5:15 to catch a flight," coach Kirk Speraw said. "We had a lot of issues. I don't think our guys got back into their rooms until about 1:30 or 1:45 in the morning."

Coming on strong

Don't look now, but UAB is looking like the one team playing well enough to possibly upset Memphis in the C-USA Tournament next week.

And the irony is, it all started after Memphis beat the Blazers, 70-56, in Birmingham on Feb. 8. After the game, coach Mike Davis said he felt better about his team after that game than he had in weeks. Turns out, he was right. UAB has won four of five, and with wins at Southern Miss and at home against Tulane, the Blazers would finish 9-7 in the league and possibly snag the No. 4 spot and a first-round bye.

"We still have a long way to go, but we have a better feel for what we're going to do from a systems standpoint," Davis said.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Memphis and UCLA Hold Longest Current Streaks in Top 25 - 36 Weeks

Top 10 | Active Sports Streaks

UCLA and Memphis, 36 straight weeks in the Top-25: When Duke fell out of the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll for the first time in 11 years two weeks ago, the Bruins and Tigers took over the new active mark for most consecutive weeks as ranked teams. UCLA also holds the all-time record for longest run in the Top-25, with a 14-year stint spanning 221 weeks.

Memphis vs. UTEP Pre-Game Notes

UTEP Basketball Notes/Game 29/Memphis

The Tip-Off ...
UTEP (14-14, 6-8 C-USA) faces its second ranked opponent of the season on Thursday when Memphis (25-3, 14-0 C-USA) makes its first visit to the Don Haskins Center since 1977 ... the Tigers are ranked sixth in the Associated Press top-25 poll and seventh in the ESPN/USA Today top-25 poll ... tip-off is slated for 7:05 p.m. MST ... the game will be nationally televised on ESPN2 ... it marks the first time a UTEP home game has been carried on either ESPN or ESPN2 since Jan. 17, 1998 (62-50 win over UNLV on ESPN2) ... UTEP lost at then-20th ranked Syracuse, 83-69, on Nov. 12 and is 31-73 all-time versus AP Top-25 teams (20-23 at home, 11-15 in the Haskins Center) ... the Miners won their last home game versus a ranked foe, 80-61 over then-20th rated Fresno State on Feb. 17, 2001 ... UTEP hasn’t beaten a team rated as high as sixth in the AP poll since upsetting second-ranked Kansas, 66-60, in the second round of the 1992 NCAA Tournament in Dayton ... Thursday’s game marks a reunion of Memphis head coach John Calipari and UTEP head coach Tony Barbee ... Barbee played for Calipari at UMass from 1989-93, before joining him as an assistant coach at Memphis from 2000-06 ... UTEP is 11-6 at home this season, including 5-2 in C-USA play ... the Miners are 58-11 at home over the last four seasons, with a 28-4 mark in home conference games (12-2 since joining Conference USA for the 2005-06 season) ... Memphis is 7-2 on the road in 2006-07 with losses to Tennessee (76-58) and then-ninth ranked Arizona (79-71) ... the Tigers bring a 17-game winning streak to El Paso, including a 77-64 conquest of Houston on Sunday at the FedExForum ... UTEP lost its last game at East Carolina, 79-78, on Saturday.

On The Air ...

Dave Revsine (play-by-play), Doug Gottlieb (analyst) and Tom Brennan (analyst) will call the action on ESPN2 ... English and Spanish radio coverage is available on KOFX 92.3 FM and ESPN Deportes 1150 AM respectively ... Jon Teicher (play-by-play) and Steve Yellen (color) are the English broadcasters, while Omar Ropele (play-by-play) and Victor Luces (color) are the Spanish commentators.

Noting Memphis ...

The Tigers entered the week ranked third nationally in won-lost percentage (.893), fifth in scoring margin (+17.9 ppg), sixth in steals per game (10.2), eighth in field goal percentage defense (.383), ninth in scoring offense (80.4 ppg) and 14th in blocks per game (6.1) ... Memphis leads Conference USA in scoring offense, scoring margin, field goal percentage defense, three-point field goal percentage defense (.305), steals and assist/turnover ratio (1.12) ... sophomore guard Chris Douglas-Roberts is averaging 15.1 ppg, senior guard Jeremy Hunt 13.9 ppg and sophomore forward Robert Dozier 10.5 ppg ... junior forward Joey Dorsey is first in C-USA in rebounding (9.8 rpg), field goal percentage (.645) and blocks (2.6 bpg) ... sophomore guard Antonio Anderson is first in assist/turnover ratio (2.69) and second in steals (1.9 spg) ... Hunt is second in three-point field goals per game (2.5).

Series History ...

Memphis leads the series 5-1 ... the Miners and Tigers have split two previous meetings in El Paso ... UTEP defeated Memphis 85-79 in the Sun Carnival Classic championship game on Dec. 18, 1971 ... Memphis beat UTEP 71-65 in the opening round of the Sun Carnival Classic on Dec. 16, 1977 ... Memphis edged UTEP 66-56 last season at the FedExForum in the first matchup between the teams as members of Conference USA.

Miners Versus Memphis ...

Kevin Henderson, Stefon Jackson and Maurice Thomas all played in last year’s UTEP-Memphis game ... Henderson and Jackson both started ... Henderson was on the floor for 36 minutes, scoring 13 points (4-for-7 FGs, 3-for-4 3FG, 2-for-4 FT)) with four rebounds, three assists and a steal ... Jackson tallied 12 points (4-for-8 FGs, 4-for-4 FTs) in 27 minutes with three rebounds and two assists ... Thomas came off the bench to produce two rebounds and a steal in seven minutes, missing both of his shot attempts ... Marvin Kilgore has faced Memphis once in his collegiate career as a freshman at East Carolina on Feb. 2, 2005 ... he tallied seven points (3-for-4 FGs, 1-for-1 3FG, 0-for-1 FT) with four rebounds and an assist in 21 minutes in the Pirates’ 72-66 loss to the Tigers at the FedEx Forum ... Darren Clarke played seven minutes in St. Louis’ 63-54 loss to Memphis on Feb. 7, 2004 at The Pyramid, missing his lone shot attempt.

The Last Meeting ...

Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 17 points, leading fourth-ranked Memphis to a 66-56 win over UTEP on Feb. 22, 2006 at the FedExForum ... Douglas-Roberts made 7-of-10 shots and 3-of-4 free throws, propelling the Tigers to their 14th consecutive victory ... UTEP’s John Tofi played only nine minutes before suffering a season-ending knee injury ... minus Tofi, UTEP was outrebounded for just the second time in 11 conference games, 35-30 ... UTEP shot 44.7 percent from the field and Memphis shot 39.7 percent ... the Miners got off to a good start, leading 15-14 midway through the first half ... they trailed by only four points (28-24) with two and a half minutes remaining in the period before the Tigers built a 32-24 cushion at the break ... a layup by Edgar Moreno cut the deficit to 32-26 early in the second half ... that was as close as UTEP would get in the second stanza, as Memphis built leads of as many as 17 points ... the Miners kept fighting, however, pulling to within eight points (63-55) with 1:11 to play on a three-pointer by Kevin Henderson ... Henderson was 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and scored 13 points ... Jason Williams led the Miners with 18 points, and Stefon Jackson added 12 points ... UTEP held Memphis star Rodney Carney to 10 points – eight below his average – on 3-for-13 shooting ... Darius Washington was the only other Tiger in double figures with 11 points ... UTEP committed 19 turnovers, leading to 23 Memphis points.

UTEP in the C-USA Stats ...

UTEP leads Conference USA in assists (15.3 apg) ... the Miners are second in scoring offense (76.3 ppg) and steals (8.6 spg), and third in rebounding offense (38.6 rpg), turnover margin (+3.11) and offensive rebounds (13.8 rpg) ... Malik Alvin is fifth in assists (4.5 apg), tied for eighth in steals (1.5 spg) and ninth in three-point field goal percentage (.394) ... Stefon Jackson is third in scoring (18.5 ppg), tied for seventh in offensive rebounds (2.5 rpg), tied for eighth in steals (1.5 spg) and 10th in rebounding (6.0 rpg) ... Kevin Henderson is sixth in steals (1.6 spg) and ninth in rebounding (6.0 rpg) ... Jeremy Sampson is ninth in blocked shots (1.3 bpg) ... Maurice Thomas is third in field goal percentage (.560) and offensive rebounds (2.9 rpg) ... UTEP is second in scoring offense (72.6 ppg), tied for second in steals (9.1 spg), third in turnover margin (+3.36) and tied for third in assists (13.4 apg) for C-USA games only ... Alvin is third in C-USA in steals (2.0 spg) for league games only.

Senior Night ...

Senior guard Kevin Henderson will be playing in his final home game for the Miners on Thursday ... Henderson has appeared in 58 games for UTEP, making 40 starts ... the Minneapolis native has averaged 9.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals in a Miner uniform ... he ranks 10th in school history with 98 three-point field goals, and 12th with 98 steals ... Henderson leads UTEP in rebounding (6.0 rpg) and steals (1.6 spg) this season, while ranking second on the team in scoring (11.1 ppg) and third in assists (2.8 apg) ... he has scored in double figures 28 times at UTEP ... graduate assistant Chris Judge will also be honored at Thursday’s game ... Judge has been with the Miners for the last five seasons, starting as a manager before being elevated to head manager and graduate assistant ... he has been involved with many facets of the Miner basketball program, including coordinating camps and film exchange and compiling video highlights for the coaches television shows ... he graduated from UTEP in December, 2006 with a degree in public relations.

Memphis West ...

Five members of the UTEP staff have ties to the University of Memphis ... head coach Tony Barbee was an assistant for the Tigers from 2000-06 ... assistant coach Tony Madlock played for Memphis from 1988-92 ... assistant coach Milt Wagner was coordinator of basketball operations at Memphis from 2000-06 ... director of basketball operations Mike Babul was assistant director of basketball operations at Memphis during the 2003-04 season ... video coordinator Nathaniel Root lettered for the Tigers from 2000-03.

UTEP Home Notes ...

The Miners are 11-6 at home this season, including 7-2 in their last nine games ... UTEP is averaging 80.6 points at home (69.4 ppg over the last five home games) ... UTEP has scored 80+ points in nine of 17 home games ... the Miners have held their last eight home opponents to field goal percentages below 40 ... over the last eight home games, opponents have averaged 61.5 ppg with a .353 field goal percentage and .326 three-point field goal percentage ... UTEP has been outrebounded once in seven Conference USA home games (by Tulsa, 49-35).

Home/Road Splits ...

Every player on the UTEP roster has a better shooting percentage at home than on the road ... UTEP’s leading scorer, sophomore guard Stefon Jackson, is averaging 19.4 ppg at home while shooting .475 (104-for-219) from the field and .440 (22-for-50) from three-point range ... Jackson is averaging 17.3 ppg on the road with a .400 (52-for-130) field goal percentage and .176 (6-for-34) three-point percentage ... Jackson also shoots 80.6 percent (100-for-124) from the line in home games and 62.2 percent (46-for-74) in road games ... junior guard Darren Clarke is averaging 8.6 ppg in the Haskins Center with a .446 (50-for-112) field goal percentage and .421 (24-for-57) three-point percentage ... Clarke has averaged 5.8 ppg on the road, shooting .278 (15-for-54) from the floor and .259 (7-for-27) from outside ... freshman forward Dale Vanwright has shot 52.4 percent (11-for-21) from three-point land at home, and 30.8 percent (4-for-13) in road games.

From USA Today "Memphis' 'Propaganda' Battle"

Memphis' 'Propaganda' battle
Updated 2/27/2007 11:36 PM ET

By Tom Weir, USA TODAY

MEMPHIS — John Calipari throws open a door and looks out on a University of Memphis parking lot with impish pride.
"They didn't tow me," Calipari shouts as he spots his illegally parked Audi. "We must be winning."

Memphis is indeed winning. The Tigers are 25-3 and riding a 17-game streak, the nation's longest in Division I men's basketball. Only Memphis and the Big South's Winthrop are undefeated in men's conference play, and Memphis ran its home winning streak to 29 Sunday with a 77-64 victory against Houston.

Given that Memphis is where the Conference USA will play its league tournament, it's a good possibility the Tigers will glide into the NCAA tournament on a 22-game roll.

During the winning streak, Memphis' average margin of victory has been 21.1 points by a team that starts one junior (6-9 forward Joey Dorsey), three sophomores (6-6 guards Antonio Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts and 6-9 forward Robert Dozier) and a freshman (6-2 guard Willie Kemp).

Despite the team's hot streak, Calipari is talking like a strategist from the Cold War era. He peppers his conversation with references to the "propaganda" that could knock the No. 7-ranked Tigers to a lower seed in the NCAA tournament because of perceptions about the diminished strength of Conference USA.

"I just don't want it to become propaganda, because the more it's said the more it becomes believable," Calipari says. "You don't think our guys are watching TV and hearing they should be a 4 seed or a 5 seed?

"You don't want opinions to become propaganda. You don't have a sequestered group picking these seeds, and the tournament is all about seeding, believe me."

Calipari has been battling that so-called propaganda since Louisville, Marquette, Cincinnati and DePaul moved to the Big East in 2005.

This season the RPI ratings, which evaluate strength of schedule for teams, rank Conference USA 11th in Division I, behind the Mountain West, the Western Athletic Conference and the Atlantic 10.

In this week's USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches' Poll, Memphis was the only C-USA school among the 47 that received at least one top-25 vote.

But Memphis' RPI ranks ninth, one slot behind Duke and two behind defending national champion Florida.

"We had a top-five non-conference schedule," says Calipari, whose team had losses at Arizona and Tennessee in December and knocked off Gonzaga in overtime on the road Feb. 17.

"And people don't want to accept this, but our league has gotten stronger than it was a year ago. … Six teams moved up 50 or more (places) in the RPI."

Regardless of Memphis' schedule, the Tigers are having their most surprising season since the Calipari era began in 2000. Last year's Elite Eight team saw Rodney Carney and Shawne Williams go to the NBA as first-round picks and Darius Washington go to Europe.

"People say, 'They lost 50% of their points, 50% of their rebounds, how can they be better?' " Calipari says.

The answer, he says, is he has one of his best passing teams in his 15 years of college coaching.

"There was no way we were going to be as talented as last year, but what we are is a better team, passing the ball and taking better shots," Calipari says.

"We don't shoot it better. We probably miss more wide-open threes than any team in the country. But if we're making threes, we'll beat you by 30."

Faith in Hunt pays off

Douglas-Roberts, who leads the Tigers in scoring (15.1 points a game), says the key to the younger players developing so quickly is last year's season.

"It's carried over big," Douglas-Roberts says of the season that ended with a loss to eventual national runner-up UCLA. "The returning guys know what it takes, and the young guys have listened."

Continuity is a constant at Memphis, where all the players live in two adjacent homes. One has nine bedrooms, the other has five.

"Everybody lives together, and we all always eat dinner together," Anderson says. "There's never anything negative.

"If I'm broke, I can ask anybody on the team for five bucks, and they'll give it to me."

For Anderson, Dorsey and Dozier, that continuity also dates to their high school years at Laurinburg (N.C.) Prep, where they had a 40-0 run.

"We had that attitude that losing is not acceptable," Anderson says. "We brought that here."

Memphis has exceptional depth, with nine players averaging at least 12.4 minutes. The only senior who gets significant playing time is 6-5 sixth-man Jeremy Hunt, who is second on the team in scoring (13.9 points a game).

Hunt, 23, has been a successful reclamation project for Calipari.

The Memphis-raised guard was dismissed from the team in 2005 after two assault incidents. At the time Calipari said the dismissal was permanent, but he relented after Hunt went on to earn his degree in African-American studies. Hunt is working on a second major, in communications.

"Believe me, there was a gnashing of the teeth before taking him back," Calipari says, adding Hunt is on "double-secret probation."

"He's got things he has to do throughout the year. If he breaks the contract, he's gone," Calipari says. "There's a curfew.

"It's all well beyond what a normal athlete would have to do. It's probably unfair, but what was he going to do? Say no?"

Calipari says Hunt earned his way back by completing his degree in four years and continuing to come to every game, plus at least three practices a week.

"That's a humbled guy," Calipari says. "He's repentant about what he did."

Anderson says: "Getting Jeremy back was huge. He stayed out of trouble all last year and minded his business. Now Jeremy is a big leader on this team, telling guys what to do, what not to do, because he's been down that road."

Hunt has turned down opportunities to start, content to be the spark off the bench. He says his continuing probation "is nothing too hard, nothing I can't handle" and "I'm just very thankful, very blessed to be in this position, to get a second chance."

The rapid emergence of Memphis' young players, Hunt says, is because "Coach Cal doesn't treat them like young players. He puts pressure on them to see how they'll respond, and he's getting on them like they're seniors."

Nothing soft about Memphis

One of the players Calipari has ridden hardest is Dozier, who's averaging 10.5 points and 5.7 rebounds.

Inheriting the big-man role from the physical Carney has led to the 215-pound Dozier sometimes being portrayed as soft.

"Every day, I've heard something about me being soft since I've been here," Dozier says. "It's been Coach's argument with me since the first day I got here."

Mention Dozier to Calipari, and his eyes widen and he whistles.

"Potentially, oh my goodness," says Calipari, who predicts Dozier can eventually outperform first-round pick Carney if he trains hard next summer.

Calipari says Dozier's probable NBA future and that Memphis has had three first-round picks since 2002 have overcome any recruiting issues the Tigers face as a member of Conference USA.

"There's really only one league they're talking about," Calipari says. "That's the NBA."

If Memphis wins out, conventional wisdom dictates the Tigers will wind up with a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Calipari, however, disagrees.

"If we could run the table," he says, "we're probably a No. 1 seed."

Really, coach?

Calipari, smiling, says, "Propaganda."

Jeremy Hunt Gets Clean Slate From Court System

Tiger player Hunt gets clean slate from court

By Lawrence Buser, The Commercial Appeal
February 27, 2007

University of Memphis basketball player Jeremy Hunt made a brief appearance in Criminal Court this morning and left with a clean slate and congratulations from the judge.

Hunt was charged a year ago with domestic violence assault against his former girlfriend, but was placed on attorney general’s diversion, which meant the case would be wiped from his record if he met certain conditions, including no new arrests.

He met all the requirements, has earned his college degree and has been a major factor in his team’s 25-3 record and No. 6 national ranking.

On Tuesday, his 12-month diversion period expired, prompting Judge James Lammey to congratulate Hunt for turning his life around.'s Seth Davis "The Bubble Breakdown"

The bubble breakdown
Teams that are in, on the edge and still work to do
Posted: Tuesday February 27, 2007 11:38AM; Updated: Tuesday February 27, 2007 11:38AM

A few thoughts to keep in mind as you read yet another bubble column:

First, not all bubble teams are created equal. Some bubble boys are all but assured of an at-large bid. Some will need a small miracle to get one. It's important to understand the difference.

Second, not all "locks" are really locks. By my definition, a "lock" is a team that will get a bid even if it does not win another game. You have to look at the remaining games on a team's schedule and ask yourself, if this team really does not win again, is it definitely, unequivocally going to the tournament? If the answer is no, you've got yourself a bubble boy.

Third, it's not very helpful to list the bubble picture according to conferences. When you really get down to the nitty gritty of deciding who's in and who's out, conference affiliation doesn't mean squat.

Finally, the final bubble picture is not as muddled as you might think. Once the final games and conference tournaments are played, you're usually looking at 10 to 12 teams vying for 3 to 5 bids. For all the talk about parity, compression and congestion, I expect this year will be the same.

Thus, allow me to present to you how I see the NCAA tournament picture heading into the regular season's final weekend. Any mention of rankings refers to the RPI, not the polls. And all RPI-related info comes, as usual, from College

Let's start with the locks. The following teams are going to the tournament even if they do not win another game: North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Boston College, Duke, Maryland, Kansas, Texas A&M, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Marquette, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Indiana, Southern Illinois, Air Force, UCLA, Washington State, USC, Oregon, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Tennessee.

This group totals 27 teams from eight conferences, which accounts for 19 at large bids. That leaves 15 spots remaining for the bubble boys.

There are also a handful of teams that are the only teams from their respective conferences who have a chance to win an at-large bid, should they not wrap up the automatic bid. They are: Memphis (Conference USA), Butler (Horizon), Nevada (WAC) and Winthrop (Big South). Should any of these wild cards lose in their conference tournaments, that will eat up a bid that would otherwise go to a bubble boy. For now, I'm going to assume all four win their league tournaments, still leaving us with 15 bids to hand out.

(Incidentally, unlike the other three schools in the above group, Winthrop is not assured of an at-large bid. Though, if the Eagles do get snubbed I'm going to go Packer on the committee during the CBS Selection Show.)

Now for the fun part: the bubble. As I mentioned at the top, it's not enough to give you "ins" and "outs" at this stage of the season. So I've divided the bubble into four flights. Flight A is comfortably in, Flight B is barely in, Flight C is out but close, Flight D is for long shots. I've also listed the teams in each flight from strongest to weakest so you can see exactly where they are on my board. Here's how it breaks down:

Flight A
How can the Rebels, who are ranked 12th in the RPI, not make my automatic list? Because their final two games are at New Mexico and home against Colorado State. Those are two pretty bad teams, so if UNLV loses those two plus its first game in the Mountain West tournament, it will have to sweat out selection weekend. Still, UNLV gave Nevada its only loss at home this year and it also has a win at Texas Tech to its credit, so it would be tough to leave the Rebs home regardless of what happens.

The only reason I left the Cardinal out my automatic list is because they play Arizona State at home on Thursday. A loss there would hurt, especially since it would be their third straight, but this team still has a very strong profile for a bubble team: wins at home over UCLA, Oregon, USC and Texas Tech as well as a road victory over Virginia. Get by the Sun Devils in Maples and their work is done.

Quick: What are Texas' best two wins this season? Answer: at home against LSU (in overtime) and at Texas Tech. Hardly an overpowering resume, but the Longhorns have no losses outside the top 100. They also end the regular season against Texas A&M and at Kansas, so they could drop their last two and not lose any ground. The sweep over Texas Tech looks pretty good, but one more win in the Big 12 tourney would erase any lingering doubt.

I almost put the Cougars on my automatic list, but their loss at San Diego State kept them off for now. Keep in mind they also have some bad losses at Boise State, Lamar and Colorado State. Losing at Air Force in their next game wouldn't hurt them, but if they lost at home to Utah and then lost in the first round of the Mountain West tournament, that would mean four losses in a row.

Notre Dame
I left the Irish off my list o' locks for two reasons. First, their last game is at Rutgers, which is not an easy win but would still qualify as a bad loss, especially if it's followed up with another bad loss to the start of the Big East tournament. But the main reason Notre Dame is here is that putrid nonconference strength of schedule (SOS) ranking of 301. (Though it should be said the Irish beat Maryland and Alabama.) It looks like Mike Brey has been spending too much time hanging out with Jim Calhoun and Jim Boeheim, but his club has played well down the stretch.

This is a great example of a team that is in good shape because its coach put together an intelligent schedule. The Wildcats played four true road games and three neutral-court games in the nonconference season, which is almost unheard of for a major conference team. None of Villanova's nine losses came against bad teams, but the finishing stretch is a bit dicey -- at UConn followed by Syracuse at home. Two losses would mean four out of five, which would tighten Nova's collar heading into the Big East tourney. One more win would put them safely in.

The Orange moved from Flight C to the Flight A with Monday night's statement win over Georgetown, but I still think they need one more win to seal the deal. The win over the Hoyas was just their third against the top 50 of the RPI, and they do have that 107 nonconference SOS ranking staring the committee in the face. Losing at Villanova wouldn't hurt them too badly, but the best thing Syracuse did this season was avoid any real bad losses. The Big East tournament would not be a good place to get one.

Bruiser Flint's Dragons did themselves no favors by losing at William & Mary on Feb. 14, but their win at Creighton three days later put them in a good position. They also have road wins at Villanova and Syracuse, a 13-4 record in road games and the seventh-toughest nonconference schedule in the country. This team is operating on very little margin for error, but even if the Dragons lose to VCU in the CAA semifinal, I think they'll be tough to leave out -- though a trip to the final would their case much, much stronger.

Flight B

The Illini really benefited from the Big Ten's imbalanced schedule. They only had to play Wisconsin and Ohio State once, and both games were at home. It is especially important that Illinois play well late in the season, because it needs to show it can win games without the two players who were injured in an auto accident. The Illini notched home wins over Indiana and Michigan State and they have no losses outside the top 100. As long as that remains true, I'm thinking they're in pretty good shape.

The Bluejays were cruising along through the meat of their Missouri Valley schedule before hitting a late stretch where they lost three out of four, including a bad loss at Illinois State. Creighton also lost at home to Drexel on Feb. 17, which means the committee would be unlikely to take the Bluejays over the Dragons if it comes down to that. Still, Creighton does have five wins against the top 50. If the Jays get to the MVC final they'd be a cinch, but as long as they win their first game against the Illinois State-Indiana State winner, I'm guessing they'll be OK as well.

Texas Tech
I'm not saying the Red Raiders are a shoo-in, but I'm amazed how many mock brackets don't include a team that has a sweep over Texas A&M and a home win over Kansas. Their only bad loss came on the road by three points at Baylor, and their nonconference SOS is ranked 48th. Again, any bubble team by definition has weaknesses, but few bubble boys boast these kinds of strengths.

Old Dominion
First, the Monarchs played the 18th toughest non-league schedule in the country, which included a win at Georgetown. Now, they have won 11 consecutive games. They are 8-5 on the road and have a terrific RPI ranking. Plus, they have a season sweep over Drexel, which has won some tough non-league road games itself. In fact, ODU's entire schedule includes just one slipup, a loss at James Madison on Jan. 17, which is why this team has clearly demonstrated it deserves to be in the NCAA tournament even if it loses in the CAA final. In fact, even a loss to Hofstra in the semifinal would keep the Monarchs very much alive on my board.

Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets are in better shape than many people realize. They have six top-50 wins, including over Purdue and Memphis back in Maui. (I think it's especially helpful to have wins over fellow bubble boys. How could the committee take Purdue and not Georgia Tech if Tech beat them head to head?) Tech's finishing stretch (home games vs. North Carolina and Boston College) could cut both ways. A split would make them a lock. Losing both shouldn't hurt, except it would mean losing four of five to end the regular season.

Missouri State
The Bears better be rooting hard for Winthrop to win the Big South, because they lost at home to the Eagles two weeks ago. If Missouri State gets an at-large bid, it will be thanks to the classic hang-your-hat win they garnered by two points over Wisconsin back on Nov. 24. I also like the Bears' 8-4 road record and nonconference SOS ranking of 43, but they can't afford to slip up in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

Florida State
The Seminoles might be the toughest team to decide on in the whole country. Yes, they lost five in a row, but they were without their starting point guard, Toney Douglas, in four of them because of a fractured bone in his shooting hand. Leonard Hamilton expects Douglas to be back for the ACC tournament, but the Seminoles still need to make a good impression on the committee down the stretch. If they can win their final game at Miami, they'll finish 7-9 in the conference. They also have four wins over teams in the top 25 of the RPI, including Florida and at Duke, plus no losses outside the top 100. Like I said, a tough call, but for now Florida State is my last team in.

Flight C
I don't see DePaul being included in a lot of mock brackets out there, but this is a team with home wins over Kansas, Notre Dame and Marquette plus a road win over Villanova. There are not a lot of bubble teams that can compete with that. Yes, the Blue Demons stumbled out of the gate losing at Bradley and at Northwestern, but since then their only really bad loss came at St. John's on Jan. 3. With four wins against the top 50 and a respectable nonconference strength of schedule ranking (94), DePaul is right on the cusp of at-largedom.

I've got a feeling the committee is going to spend a long time talking about the Boilermakers. Yes, they beat Michigan State and Indiana at home, but didn't everyone? Their two road wins this year came at Penn State and Northwestern. They lost at Minnesota. In the final analysis, I think a team has to beat some good teams to get into the tournament, and though other teams might have more warts on their resume, I just don't think Purdue has done enough to prove it belongs in the field. It will need a real strong showing in the Big Ten tourney to demonstrate otherwise.

Steve Alford's club has hung in there fairly well. Though they beat Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue, all those wins came at home. Otherwise, Iowa is 2-8 on the road, including bad losses at Arizona State and Drake. (They also lost neutral court games to Alabama and Villanova in November.) Iowa needs to win its last two games at Penn State and at home against Illinois to stay alive, then make one of its patented runs deep into the Big Ten tournament. Otherwise, for now they're on the outside looking in.

The 'Zags would have been right on the in-and-out line even if Josh Heytvelt hadn't been suspended following his arrest for drug possession. Without him, they dropped two games at home to Santa Clara and Memphis. Gonzaga did play a murderous nonconference schedule, but they also lost a lot of those games. That drubbing of North Carolina in Madison Square Garden seems like ages ago, especially since it remains the Zags' only victory against a top-25 team. A spot in the WCC final is the minimum they'd need to get an at-large bid, but without Heytvelt I still think it probably wouldn't be enough.

San Diego State
You've got to give the Aztecs credit for getting hot at the right time. They're 7-3 in their past 10 including home wins over the big three in the Mountain West. The thing that gives me pause about them is their three losses to teams outside the top-100 (including getting swept by Wyoming) and a middling nonconference schedule ranking (170). A trip to the Mountain West final and a good showing there might be enough, but even then this team would be far from a lock.

Kansas State
I thought this team was in good position until I took a closer look. The Wildcats have zero wins against the top 25 and two against the top 50 -- over USC in Las Vegas and by one point at Texas. Throw in a couple of bad (albeit early) losses at New Mexico and Colorado State and a nonconference strength of schedule ranked 216th, and it's evident K-State is a long way from earning a bid.

I tried to give the Tide, whose best win was at home against Kentucky, the benefit of the doubt. But their loss at home to Auburn on Saturday knocked them out of the tourney and into Flight C, especially since they lost at Auburn as well. If you can't beat a mediocre team at home with an NCAA bid on the line, you're probably not tournament worthy. Even winning its last two over Ole Miss and Mississippi State would leave the Tide with work to do in the SEC tournament.

West Virginia
If the Mountaineers didn't beat UCLA on Feb. 10, they wouldn't even be considered a bubble team, much less in the field. When you consider the Bruins didn't have their starting point guard, Darren Collison, for that game, and that West Virginia played the 285th-ranked nonconference schedule in the country, you can see why they'll probably be on the outside looking in. A win at Pittsburgh plus another over a top-tier team in the Big East tournament would change the game, but that's a tall order.

Flight D
Oklahoma State
It has been stunning to see the Cowboys unravel after starting out 15-1 with wins over Missouri State, Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Yet here we are, the last few days in February and the Pokes still do not have a road win. That, plus their six losses in their past seven games, has dashed their at-large hopes.

The Musketeers have taken care of business in the Atlantic 10, but the league is so weak it hasn't helped their cause much. That win over Villanova on Nov. 19 seems a long ways away right now -- it is still Xavier's only win over a top-25 team. Maybe the committee will surprise us and extend the Musketeers a bid if they reach the A-10 final, but I think most experts see this as a one-bid league.

The bad news for the Dawgs is they have just two wins over top-50 teams, and their best nonconference win (over Gonzaga) has not held up. The good news is they can play their way into the field this week. All they have to do is win at Kentucky on Wednesday and beat Tennessee at home on Saturday. Easy, right?

This team has stood out in a very mediocre Atlantic 10 and does have a win at Louisville to its credit. Unfortunately, that is their only win over a top-50 team. There are too many other teams out there with more quality wins to expect the Minutemen will get an at-large bid.

It turns out Oliver Purnell's guys were paper Tigers after all. That 17-0 start doesn't amount to much right now considering their best win was at Old Dominion. Clemson has now lost four in a row and 9 of its last 11, and even wins against Miami and at Virginia Tech would leave them needing to win the ACC tournament. Here's hoping Purnell will learn the lesson Leonard Hamilton learned last year after Florida State got snubbed and upgrade his non-league schedule next season.

The Rams are currently in first place in the CAA, but unlike Drexel and Old Dominion I don't think they can earn an at-large bid. Their best nonconference opponent was Xavier, which beat VCU by three back in November. Zero games (not to mention zero wins) against the top 25, plus an overall SOS ranking of 144 does not usually equate an NCAA tournament appearance.

The Friars are yet another team with a bad road record (1-6) and no wins against the top 25 of the RPI. The last thing they could afford was a loss at home to another bubble team from their league, but that's just what they suffered last weekend against Syracuse.

The Hogs do have a sweep over Alabama and an overtime win over Southern Illinois in November, but they have lost 9 of their last 13 to take themselves out of consideration. A win at Vanderbilt in the regular-season finale would help, but they'd still have to beat one of the SEC East powers in the league tourney to have a shot.

Ole Miss
Some folks seem to think Ole Miss is close, but I don't. Their best win was at home over Tennessee, but that comes with an asterisk because the Vols didn't have Chris Lofton. Otherwise, the Rebs are 2-9 on the road and have a nonconference SOS ranking of 205.

I had the Pride in the tourney last year and George Mason out, so you can see how much the committee values my opinion. That said, there is very little chance Hofstra can get an at-large bid. The Pride has just two wins against the top 50 (none against the top 25) and several bad losses, including a four-point defeat at Delaware on Jan. 29. When you're trying to get in from a conference that is ranked 12th in the RPI, you just can't lose those kinds of games.

Once again, Lorenzo Romar put his team in a hole by assembling a soft non-league schedule filled mostly with home games. (The one road game was a loss at Gonzaga in an annual series that Romar has brought to a halt.) The Huskies had ample opportunity to state their case in league play, but inexperience, injuries and poor defense has led to a 6-10 record and a very low RPI ranking.

The Braves have just one top-50 win and helped their cause by winning their Bracket Buster game at VCU. But they had a chance to prove their mettle with early games against Illinois and Michigan State and came up empty.

Outside of a four-point win at Stanford and a two-point win at home over Oregon, the Bears haven't given the committee any reason to believe they belong in the tournament. They did play a good nonconference schedule (ranked 28th), but they didn't win any of the tough ones. A run to the Pac-10 final might make the committee pay attention, but they probably will need to win the automatic bid to make the field.

Appalachian State
I'd love to tell you the Mountaineers have a shot at an at-large bid, but the only reason they're on this list is because of their neutral-court wins over Virginia and Vanderbilt back in December. They have four losses against teams ranked below 100 in the RPI, including a one-point loss at No. 286 Elon on Jan. 13. Big South leader Davidson has even less of a chance at an at-large bid.

El Paso Times "UTEP Tries to Put Recent Losses in the Past"

UTEP tries to put recent losses in the past
By Bill Knight / El Paso Times
Article Launched: 02/27/2007 12:00:00 AM MST

UTEP's Miners, a bit embarrassed and very disappointed, went through a brief practice session Monday in the Don Haskins Center.

Thursday night, in that very same arena, the Miners will take on Memphis - the No. 6 team in the nation. This game is coming on the end of a bumpy, bumpy trail - a trail that has seen the Miners tumble to defeat in seven of their past nine games, a trail through North Carolina that saw the Miners become the first Conference USA victim of the season for East Carolina.

UTEP went to Greenville, N.C., on Saturday to face an East Carolina team that was 0-13 in conference play. East Carolina got the 3-point bucket it needed with 8 seconds left on the game clock and knocked down the Miners 79-78.

Thursday night, the Miners will step center court in the Haskins Center against a Memphis team that is 14-0 in Conference USA play.

"That was an embarrassing loss," junior Jeremy Sampson said after Monday's practice. "We can't play like that against Memphis. We will really have to play hard, and we will have to play great defense. Memphis is really, really good. They are such a good shooting team, and they really guard you. They play the same style as us." Miner coach Tony Barbee, of course, played for Memphis coach John Calipari at the University of Massachusetts and then was an assistant under Calipari at Memphis prior to coming to UTEP this fall.

Memphis ranks first in Conference USA in scoring average at 80.4 per game and UTEP is second, averaging 76.3 points a game.

There, though, the similarities end.

Calipari has the Memphis program (24-3) rolling. Barbee still is trying to implement his style and get his players to play that style. He was on the road recruiting Monday and will rejoin the team today.

The Miners (14-14), though, are not worried about styles or even records at this point.

"Saturday's loss was disappointing," junior Marvin Kilgore said. "We are ready to get on with the next game and get that one out of our system. We have to get back to doing what we do. What do we need to improve on? Everything."

To intensify matters, Thursday's game will be home to a national television audience, thanks to ESPN2.

"Sure, it will be exciting to play a ranked team," Sampson said. "But we've got to get over that. It will be on ESPN2, and that's exciting, but we've got to get over that, too. Everybody has to put all that aside, just play our game and come up with a total team effort."

Somehow, someway, the Miners are hoping to find a way to kick that embarrassment and disappointment to the curb and return to a happier brand of basketball.

Bill Knight may be reached at; 546-6171.

Monday, February 26, 2007

CDR Named C-USA Player of the Week, 2nd Time This Season

Feb. 26 Men's Basketball Player of the Week
Douglas-Roberts Picks Up Second Honor This Season

Sophomore, G, Detroit, Mich.

Douglas-Roberts led Memphis to a 2-0 week, with a pair of wins over Houston and Rice, to improve the Tigers' win streak to 17 games (the longest current streak in the nation). In the Feb. 22 game with Rice, Douglas-Roberts scored seven of the Tigers first 11 points and finished the game with 14 points in 18 minutes of play. He also dished out a career-high-tying five assists against the Owls. In Sunday's game with Houston, Douglas-Roberts netted 19 points and tied his career-best with four steals. For the week, the sophomore averaged 17.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.5 apg and 2.5 spg in 45 minutes of play. He shot .565 (13-of-23) from the field, with a 7-of-10 performance from the free throw line. This is the second C-USA Player of the Week honor for Douglas-Roberts and the fourth for the Tigers this season.

On Day to Honor Seniors, Calipari Can Take A Bow

On day to honor seniors, Calipari can take a bow

Geoff Calkins, Sports Columnist, Commercial Appeal
February 26, 2007

With slightly more than eight minutes left in the game, already up by a dozen, the Memphis Tigers forced a shot-clock violation.

The fans cheered.

Not loud enough, evidently. Because Memphis coach John Calipari went slightly nutso, waving his arms, jumping up and down, asking for more from the crowd.
If he could have benched all 16,924 at that moment, he might have.

Then, after a few minutes, he would have sent them all back to their seats, determined to do better next time.

This is how Calipari coaches. This is how he coached the Tigers to a 77-64 win over Houston on Sunday.

Willie Kemp went under a pick instead of over?

Out he came.

Antonio Anderson didn't give the ball back to Kemp at the right moment?

Have a seat, Antonio.

Joey Dorsey didn't show enough hustle on defense for a small span?

In goes Kareem Cooper.

And if this seems excessively knee-jerk and impatient, all Calipari has to do is point to two numbers.

Seventeen -- that's the Tigers' winning streak.

Twenty-nine -- that's the Tigers' home winning streak.

"What else is there to say?" said Memphis guard Chris Douglas-Roberts. "I think he's the best coach in America."

Mind you, Calipari isn't going to win any national coach of the year awards because he isn't fresh and undiscovered.

Also, the Tigers didn't stink last year. Prizes aren't awarded for consistent excellence.

But now that the home portion of the schedule is over, now that Memphis has won its 16 home games by an average of more than 25 points, isn't it a reasonable time to stop and marvel at what Calipari has built in Memphis?

The Tigers are ranked No. 7 in both polls. They have the longest winning streak in the country.

They don't lose games at home, they're on national TV more than Ryan Seacrest and, barring an unforeseen stumble, they'll follow up last year's No. 1 seed with a No. 2 or a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Can you imagine that? It's the Lawrence Welk era in Memphis.

Ah one and ah two.

(That dated reference is for what Calipari fondly calls the blue hairs).

But it's remarkable, really. And unprecedented. The previous best back-to-back seedings came in 1985 and 1986, when the Tigers were No. 2 and No. 3 seeds.

"What we've done here is build a program," Calipari said. "Not for one year, not for two years. We've built a program."

Sure, say the skeptics. He's built a program by playing junk. Unlike his predecessors at Memphis, Calipari gets to coach against the wretched programs of the newly-depleted Conference USA.

That's one way to look at it. Except, without Calipari, who's to say this program wouldn't be every bit as wretched as the rest of them?

What separates Memphis from UAB or Tulsa right now? Or Sunday's opponent, Houston?

History? So how come Houston has played in more national championship games than Memphis? Besides, history wasn't doing Memphis much good before Calipari arrived on campus.

Each of the two years before Calipari arrived, the Tigers were 3-5 against teams now in C-USA. Want a longer period? Fine. How about seven years? That's how long Calipari has been in Memphis. In the seven seasons before he arrived, the Tigers were 23-19 against teams now in Conference USA.

They were 3-4 against UAB in their previous seven games before Calipari. They were 3-4 against Houston.

That doesn't sound like a team poised to dominate or even transcend its conference. It sounds more like a team poised to rise or fall right along with its conference.

Calipari has prevented that from happening. He's taken a negative and made it a positive. And he's shown, in the process, that while recruiting is the key to everything he does, it's not by any means the only thing he does.

"He gets us to play hard," said forward Robert Dozier. "We might not always like it, but we understand what he's doing."

When Dorsey forgets he's in there to rebound, he comes out. When Doneal Mack lets missed shots affect the rest of his game, he comes out.

"By the way," Calipari said, "you see how Mack is playing now?"

Fabulously, is what he meant. Dorsey is playing as well as ever. And the whole thing works because Calipari -- in addition to the tough love -- has proven to these players that he cares about them.

Why else would he have come out in a zone Sunday? Calipari hates zone. But he did it because he was determined to start his three seniors in their last home game. In addition to Jeremy Hunt, that meant Clyde Wade and Jared Sandridge.

Only problem: Sandridge had no chance of guarding Houston's Oliver Lafayette one-on-one.

"He wasn't going to let them isolate Jared on Senior Day," said Douglas-Roberts.

Hence, the zone. On Senior Day, Calipari's heart trumped Calipari's stubbornness.

There were smaller examples just like that throughout the entire game. Another came with 19 seconds left.

Calipari wanted to bring Dorsey out because he thought the kid deserved a big ovation. But to do that, he had to send someone in the game in place of him.

"You can't force a player to go in with 30 seconds left because it's embarrassing," Calipari said. "The reason I know that is I was that guy at one time."

So Calipari asked Cooper if he'd be willing to go in. Cooper stood up without a question. And as Dorsey jogged out to the roar of the crowd, Calipari said something that made all the difference.

"Hey," he told Cooper. "Thank you for going in."

To reach Geoff Calkins, call him at 529-2364 or Email (search for ---)

Tigers Finish Home Schedule 16-0, Defeat Houston, Win 17th In a Row

Tigers streaking
Playing together, Tigers finish off regular season at home undefeated

By Dan Wolken
February 26, 2007

When University of Memphis coach John Calipari arrived at FedExForum on Sunday and discovered that Houston had altered its starting lineup, he began to fret.

Per their Senior Day tradition, the Tigers were starting two senior walk-ons, Clyde Wade and Jared Sandridge. And with Houston's lineup change, Sandridge would be matched against Oliver Lafayette, one of the most athletic players in Conference USA.

"(Lafayette) hasn't made a basket in like two weeks, but he would against Jared, and we couldn't afford to have him get going," Calipari said.

But with the No. 7-ranked Tigers, who ran their nation-leading win streak to 17 with a 77-64 victory over Houston, there are far more solutions than problems these days.

Instead of messing with tradition, Calipari took a suggestion -- from sophomore Kareem Cooper, of all people -- and for the first time in his career started a game in a 2-3 zone, a defense he typically finds distasteful.

It was a small gesture, to be sure. But it represented everything that has gone right this season for Memphis, which improved to 25-3 overall and 14-0 in C-USA with only road games at UTEP and SMU standing in the way of the program's first-ever unbeaten conference record.

From the team's biggest stars to the last players on the bench, Memphis for more than two months has operated as one, playing for each other and working together toward accomplishments that are suddenly close enough to reach.

"We didn't want to isolate Jared on Senior Day," sophomore guard Chris Douglas-Roberts said. "We weren't going to let them do that, so we protected Jared on his day because that was their gameplan coming in."

Though the zone didn't last long -- two minutes, to be exact -- the Tigers once again proved that their defense has staying power.

Sparked by reserves Andre Allen and Doneal Mack, the Tigers found their defensive identity late in the first half. And once they did, only the margin of victory was in question.

After 13 closely contested minutes, the Tigers turned up the pressure and got steals from Robert Dozier (for a dunk), Allen (for a Joey Dorsey putback) and Douglas-Roberts (for a rim-rocking breakaway), all in the final 6:40 before halftime. Suddenly, a 22-21 Memphis lead became 38-26.

"They kind of came at us, and we weren't making shots, we weren't making plays and we weren't playing no defense," senior guard Jeremy Hunt said. "But once we got going, we never looked back. We knew they'd make a run because they've probably had this game marked on their schedule because we beat them down there. We just wanted to make it hard on them."

The Tigers did just that, holding the Cougars to 9-of-28 from 3-point range, a statistic Houston needed to be far more proficient in to beat Memphis. Only junior guard Robert McKiver was able to get going, scoring 32 points on 13 of 28 shooting. The rest of the team made just 11 field goals.

Though McKiver's shooting kept Houston in the game for a while -- he cut the lead to 51-42 with 12:33 to go -- Memphis quickly answered with a baseline runner by Douglas-Roberts (19 points on 7 of 14 shooting) and a 3-pointer by Willie Kemp.

Houston also had no answer for forward Dorsey, who had 10 rebounds but made a bigger impact offensively, scoring 16 points on a variety of post moves.

With the win, Memphis got to share with an announced crowd of 16,924 its first perfect home record (16-0) since moving to FedExForum.

"This is a heck of a team, and they want it as bad for themselves as any of us want it for them," Calipari said. "They're doing it together, so it's kind of fun to be on the ride."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

AP Story - Memphis 77, Houston 64

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -The depth of No. 7 Memphis was just too much for the Houston Cougars .

The Tigers overcame an early Houston lead fueled by aggressive defense, then wore down the Cougars and coasted to a 77-64 victory on Sunday, extending the nation's longest winning streak to 17.

Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 19 points to lead Memphis. Joey Dorsey added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers (25-3, 14-0 Conference USA), who also won their 29th consecutive home game.

Memphis weathered the pesky defensive start by the Cougars with a late run in the first half to put the game out of reach. Houston (15-13, 9-5) never threatened the Tigers in the second half.

''We're deep, and that helps us,'' Douglas-Roberts said. ''Eventually, a team that is not as deep as us will get worn out because we're constantly running up and down.''

Senior Jeremy Hunt finished with 14 points for Memphis. Dorsey was 8-of-10 from the field.

''Somebody asked me the one player in the league I'd like to have,'' Houston coach Tom Penders said. ''Douglas-Roberts is great. All these guys are great. But Dorsey, he's a stud.''

Robert McKiver led Houston with 32 points, hitting 13 of his 28 shots. While McKiver had a stellar day, he was pretty much alone offensively. No other Cougar was in double figures, and the rest of the Houston players were a combined 11-of-30 shooting. That was contrary to one of Penders' keys to keeping up with the nationally-ranked Tigers - that Houston needed a great game, while catching Memphis on an off-day.

''We needed more guys to step up,'' Penders said. ''We had to have more than one guy show up.''

Memphis defeated Houston 79-69 on Jan. 11. Winthrop of the Big South and Memphis are the only teams in the country undefeated in their respective conferences.

The Tigers already had clinched the outright C-USA championship last week, but Memphis players downplayed the accomplishment, saying they wanted to maintain momentum into the postseason.

''What everybody is saying when they are watching our team play is 'Man, do they play hard. Wow, they chase down balls and rebound. They really pass to each other,' '' Memphis coach John Calipari said. ''The last thing they say is: 'Man, are they deep.' That's the consensus everybody tells me.''

Memphis closed the first half with a 19-5 run to erase a 21-19 Houston lead. The run helped Memphis carry a 38-26 lead into halftime.

McKiver led the Cougars with 13 points in the first half, connecting on 5 of his 11 shots. Despite McKiver's conversions, Houston shot 33 percent before the half, including Oliver Lafayette , the Cougar's second-leading scorer, misfiring on six of his seven shots.

Lafayette would end the day with 7 points, missing eight of his 10 shots in the game before fouling out.

''Maybe a lot of that has to do with Memphis,'' Penders said. ''They were focusing on him, and they're quick. He just didn't have a good game offensively.''

Houston pressured Memphis out of its offensive rhythm in the first 13 minutes, picking up the Tigers at halfcourt and pushing them outside their normal offensive sets. Memphis missed seven straight shots, enabling Houston to gain a 21-19 lead on Dion Dowell 's 3-pointer with just over nine minutes left in the half.

At that point, Memphis started running, getting down the floor before Houston could set up. That contributed to the Tigers taking a 12-point halftime lead.

''They got us two or three times in pressure and transition.'' Penders said. ''For about a 2-minute stretch there, we didn't get any shots off, and they got that thing going. They're a momentum team. I needed about nine or 10 timeouts today.''

McKiver kept the Cougars from getting blown out at the start of the second half, scoring 12 straight points to cut the Memphis lead under double digits. That gave McKiver 25 of Houston's 42 points at the time.

McKiver's production wasn't enough to hold Memphis at bay, as the Tigers continued to stretch the second-half lead, eventually reaching 21 points with 1:39 left.

Official Box Score - Memphis 77, Houston 64

Official Basketball Box Score -- GAME TOTALS -- FINAL STATISTICS
Houston vs Memphis
02/25/07 1:00 pm at Memphis, Tenn. (FedExForum)
VISITORS: Houston 15-13, 9-5
24 THORPE, Jahmar...... f 1-5 0-1 3-6 1 6 7 4 5 0 2 0 0 31
42 TONEY, Tafari....... f 3-7 1-2 2-2 4 2 6 2 9 0 4 1 1 26
01 DOWELL, Dion........ g 1-3 1-3 0-0 1 2 3 3 3 2 2 0 0 20
03 McKIVER, Robert..... g 13-28 5-16 1-1 0 2 2 0 32 3 3 0 1 39
20 LAFAYETTE, Oliver... g 2-10 2-6 1-2 2 7 9 5 7 2 1 1 2 26
02 LEE, Robert......... 2-3 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 4 4 1 1 0 0 17
04 MOSLEY, Nick........ 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 4 4 3 2 0 0 1 0 18
05 MALONE, Marcus...... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3
21 JONES, Charlie...... 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 0 20
TEAM................ 3 3 1
Totals.............. 24-58 9-28 7-11 9 27 36 22 64 9 16 4 4 200
TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 10-30 33.3% 2nd Half: 14-28 50.0% Game: 41.4% DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 4-14 28.6% 2nd Half: 5-14 35.7% Game: 32.1% REBS
F Throw % 1st Half: 2-3 66.7% 2nd Half: 5-8 62.5% Game: 63.6% 2

HOME TEAM: Memphis 25-3, 14-0
05 Hunt, Jeremy........ f 4-12 2-7 4-6 0 1 1 1 14 1 0 0 0 30
32 Dorsey, Joey........ f 8-10 0-0 0-2 4 6 10 1 16 0 0 1 1 36
00 Wade, Clyde......... g 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 3
14 DOUGLAS-ROBERTS, C.. g 7-14 0-2 5-7 0 2 2 0 19 2 2 0 4 27
30 Sandridge, Jared.... g 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
01 Kemp, Willie........ 2-3 2-2 1-2 1 2 3 0 7 3 0 1 0 23
02 Dozier, Robert...... 1-1 0-0 2-5 1 4 5 2 4 2 2 0 5 26
03 Willis, Tre'Von..... 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
12 Anderson, Antonio... 1-6 0-1 0-0 0 3 3 4 2 1 3 0 0 20
15 Allen, Andre........ 2-6 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 3 5 1 1 0 1 10
20 Mack, Doneal........ 4-6 1-1 0-0 1 1 2 0 9 0 1 0 0 16
42 Cooper, Kareem...... 0-0 0-0 1-2 2 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 4
55 McGrady, Chance..... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
TEAM................ 2 4 6 1
Totals.............. 29-60 6-15 13-24 11 23 34 11 77 11 10 2 11 200
TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 15-35 42.9% 2nd Half: 14-25 56.0% Game: 48.3% DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 3-11 27.3% 2nd Half: 3-4 75.0% Game: 40.0% REBS
F Throw % 1st Half: 5-11 45.5% 2nd Half: 8-13 61.5% Game: 54.2% 4,4
Officials: Scott Thornley, John Higgins, Steve Olson
Technical fouls: Houston-None. Memphis-None.
Attendance: 16924
Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total
Houston....................... 26 38 - 64
Memphis....................... 38 39 - 77

Points in the paint-HOU 20,MEM 40. Points off turnovers-HOU 12,MEM 16.
2nd chance points-HOU 8,MEM 19. Fast break points-HOU 6,MEM 7.
Bench points-HOU 8,MEM 28. Score tied-2 times. Lead changed-8 times.
Last FG-HOU 2nd-00:45, MEM 2nd-01:39.
Largest lead-HOU by 2 1st-15:51, MEM by 21 2nd-01:39.

Quotes From Cal and Tom Penders

Memphis Head Coach John Calipari

"We played alright. They were coming in with high energy. We knew they would. They made a couple of shots, and we made a couple of errors defensively to keep them around. They shoot a lot of three-pointers, and they're going to make some. We made our run, and I thought Andre (Allen) had a heck of thing to change the complexion of the game. I thought Doneal Mack was terrific. Chris Douglas-Roberts did what he does. They couldn't guard him."

"What I think we showed a lot of people is, `My gosh they do have post play.' We need to get Kareem (Cooper) going a little bit. I just told him after the game, `I'm going to play you four minutes whether you make seven errors. I'm just going to leave you in.' I think he's better then he is playing, so maybe he is afraid that I'm going to take him out. Joey (Dorsey) dropped stepped. He got into the lane. He played strong. We didn't shoot it particularly well."

Houston Head Coach Tom Penders

"We needed more of our guys to step up today. We had to have more than one guy show up. On the offensive end, we thought we could hold our own on the backboard, but we had to have more than one guy show up offensively. Robert Lee played a very good game."

"We were trying to not give Memphis any backdoor cuts and to make it difficult for them to make threes. They hurt us in transition."

"You can't let them break you down off the dribble. I thought we did a pretty good job from start to finish on that, but they're going to still make their shots. Memphis is a good team, and they take advantage of mistakes and capitalize."

Memphis Extends Winning Streak to 17, Tops Houston 77-64 on Senior Day

Memphis Extends Winning Streak to 17
Tigers top Houston 77-64.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- The depth of No. 7 Memphis was just too much for the Houston Cougars.

The Tigers overcame an early Houston lead fueled by aggressive defense, then wore down the Cougars and coasted to a 77-64 victory on Sunday, extending the nation's longest winning streak to 17.

Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 19 points to lead Memphis. Joey Dorsey added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers (25-3, 14-0 Conference USA), who also won their 29th consecutive home game.

Memphis weathered the pesky defensive start by the Cougars with a late run in the first half to put the game out of reach. Houston (15-13, 9-5) never threatened the Tigers in the second half.

"We're deep, and that helps us," Douglas-Roberts said. "Eventually, a team that is not as deep as us will get worn out because we're constantly running up and down."

Senior Jeremy Hunt finished with 14 points for Memphis. Dorsey was 8-of-10 from the field.

"Somebody asked me the one player in the league I'd like to have," Houston coach Tom Penders said. "Douglas-Roberts is great. All these guys are great. But Dorsey, he's a stud."

Robert McKiver led Houston with 32 points, hitting 13 of his 28 shots. While McKiver had a stellar day, he was pretty much alone offensively. No other Cougar was in double figures, and the rest of the Houston players were a combined 11-of-30 shooting. That was contrary to one of Penders' keys to keeping up with the nationally-ranked Tigers -- that Houston needed a great game, while catching Memphis on an off-day.

"We needed more guys to step up," Penders said. "We had to have more than one guy show up."

Memphis defeated Houston 79-69 on Jan. 11. Winthrop of the Big South and Memphis are the only teams in the country undefeated in their respective conferences.

The Tigers already had clinched the outright C-USA championship last week, but Memphis players downplayed the accomplishment, saying they wanted to maintain momentum into the postseason.

"What everybody is saying when they are watching our team play is 'Man, do they play hard. Wow, they chase down balls and rebound. They really pass to each other,' " Memphis coach John Calipari said. "The last thing they say is: 'Man, are they deep.' That's the consensus everybody tells me."

Memphis closed the first half with a 19-5 run to erase a 21-19 Houston lead. The run helped Memphis carry a 38-26 lead into halftime.

McKiver led the Cougars with 13 points in the first half, connecting on 5 of his 11 shots. Despite McKiver's conversions, Houston shot 33 percent before the half, including Oliver Lafayette, the Cougar's second-leading scorer, misfiring on six of his seven shots.

Lafayette would end the day with 7 points, missing eight of his 10 shots in the game before fouling out.

"Maybe a lot of that has to do with Memphis," Penders said. "They were focusing on him, and they're quick. He just didn't have a good game offensively."

Houston pressured Memphis out of its offensive rhythm in the first 13 minutes, picking up the Tigers at halfcourt and pushing them outside their normal offensive sets. Memphis missed seven straight shots, enabling Houston to gain a 21-19 lead on Dion Dowell's 3-pointer with just over nine minutes left in the half.

At that point, Memphis started running, getting down the floor before Houston could set up. That contributed to the Tigers taking a 12-point halftime lead.

"They got us two or three times in pressure and transition." Penders said. "For about a 2-minute stretch there, we didn't get any shots off, and they got that thing going. They're a momentum team. I needed about nine or 10 timeouts today."

McKiver kept the Cougars from getting blown out at the start of the second half, scoring 12 straight points to cut the Memphis lead under double digits. That gave McKiver 25 of Houston's 42 points at the time.

McKiver's production wasn't enough to hold Memphis at bay, as the Tigers continued to stretch the second-half lead, eventually reaching 21 points with 1:39 left.

Tigers' Signee Jeff Robinson Leads St. Patrick Over O.J. Mayo's Huntington W.V.

Basketball Game of the Week Recap

Huntington (Huntington, W.Va.) vs. St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.)

Corey Fisher and O.J. Mayo put on a show last night. Find out who came out on top in this highly-anticipated battle.

By Jon Mahoney

Huntington (Huntington, W.Va.) guard O.J. Mayo proved why he’s RISE’s No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2007 last night when he went off for 47 points against St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) in a game that was nationally televised on ESPN2.

However, it wasn’t enough as St. Patrick senior guard Corey Fisher scored 37 points and senior forward Jeff Robinson added 23 points and eight rebounds to lead the Celtics to a 78-76 overtime victory in front of 9,048 fans at Marshall University’s Cam Henderson Center in Huntington, W.Va. Fisher is rated the nation’s No. 40 overall recruit in the Class of 2007 by RISE, while Robinson is rated No. 63.

St. Patrick (23-1), which is ranked No. 2 in the RISE National Basketball Top 25, led the No. 3 Highlanders, 21-7, after the first quarter. Robinson and Fisher scored nine and eight points, respectively, in the quarter, while Huntington shot just 2 of 15 from the field.

However, Huntington (20-2) bounced back by going on a 12-5 run in the second and cut the lead to 36-33 at the half thanks to a Mayo 3-pointer at the buzzer. Mayo had 18 points at the half, while Fisher led the Celtics with 16.

The second half turned into the Mayo-Fisher show as each player continued to trade baskets. The Villanova-bound Fisher delivered one of the highlights of the night in the third quarter when he crossed over the USC-bound Mayo and hit an off-balance layup while being fouled by Mayo.

Mayo really heated up in the fourth by scoring 11 points, but none were bigger than his banked-in 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game at 70 with 32.8 seconds left. Huntington ended up getting the ball back and fed it to Mayo, but he missed the shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

In the extra session, Mayo, who sank nine 3-pointers in the game, scored all six of Huntington’s points on two triples. Meanwhile, Fisher and Robinson each scored four points for the Celtics and Fisher dished it to Robinson for the game-winning layup with 35 seconds left after St. Patrick had stolen the ball from Huntington senior guard Mike Taylor.

Huntington had a chance to tie or take the lead at the end, but the Highlanders missed three 3-point attempts at end with the final one coming from Mayo at the top of the key.

Huntington forward Patrick Patterson, who’s rated the nation’s No. 10 overall recruit in the Class of 2007 by RISE, scored just 10 points but barely touched the ball. He added 11 rebounds and five blocks, but the outcome of this game could have been different had the Highlanders continued to look for their talented big man.

St. Patrick was helped out by junior forward Quintrell Thomas, who added eight points and 11 rebounds, and sophomore guard Dexter Strickland, who chipped in eight points of his own.

This victory by St. Patrick could pay even bigger dividends for the Celtics. Even though Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) is No. 1 in the RISE National Basketball Top 25, St. Patrick is at least in the discussion for possibly moving up to the top spot based on the strength of its win on the road against the No. 3 team in the nation.

But before the Celtics can entertain thoughts about moving up to No. 1, they’ll have to get past Linden (Linden, N.J.) in the Frank J. Cicarell Union County Tournament finals on Saturday at 3 p.m. St. Patrick will be going for its third consecutive county title and ninth in the last 12 years.

Memphis vs. Houston Preview

Striving for perfection in Conference USA

Memphis, TN (Sports Network) - The seventh-ranked Memphis Tigers continue to plow through their Conference USA schedule, and they will attempt to avoid an upset this afternoon as the Houston Cougars come to town.

Houston rode a two-game skid into Wednesday's home clash with Tulane, but the Cougars were able to score a much-needed 78-70 victory. They are now 9-4 in league play and hope to improve on a 4-7 true road record.

As for Memphis, it has run off 16 straight wins and is a perfect 13-0 in C- USA action. The Tigers have not lost in more than two months and are coming off a 99-63 romp over Rice. Clearly, the goal of the team should be to earn a top seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

Memphis recorded a 79-69 victory over Houston earlier this season, and the Tigers own a 16-10 advantage in the all-time series.

Robert McKiver and Oliver Lafayette scored 24 points apiece to lead the Houston Cougars to their eight-point victory over Tulane on Wednesday. Jahmar Thorpe pitched in 12 points and 10 rebounds for Houston, which won the game despite shooting 39.1 percent from the floor. The Cougars only turned the ball over seven times and forced 20 giveaways. McKiver is averaging 18.2 ppg this season despite his 36.9 percent shooting from the floor. Lafayette checks in with 14.6 ppg on 34.5 percent shooting, and it is hard to believe that the team is five games over .500 in league play despite the fact that the two top scorers shoot so inefficiently. Thorpe adds 11.0 ppg to the lineup. Houston is being outrebounded by five boards per game.

Chris Douglas-Roberts is the top offensive performer for Memphis, as he is netting 14.9 ppg on 54.2 percent shooting from the floor. Jeremy Hunt checks in with 13.9 ppg, and he is shooting 41.8 percent from three-point range. The third and final double-digit scorer for the club is Robert Dozier with his 10.7 ppg. Another individual to keep an eye on is Joey Dorsey, as the big man is scoring 8.4 ppg to go along with 9.7 rpg and 73 blocks. Memphis is racking up 80.5 ppg while limiting opponents to just 62.4 ppg on 38.2 percent shooting from the field. Willie Kemp scored 20 points against Rice on Thursday, as he paced five double-digit scorers. The Tigers connected on 55.1 percent of their field goal attempts, including a 15-of-32 showing from behind the arc.

Sunday Is Senior-Day for Hunt, Sandridge and Wade

Little-used seniors to get prime exposure in Tigers' finale
But don't go crazy in there, coach warns

By Dan Wolken
February 24, 2007

There is hardly a more rousing ovation at any University of Memphis home game than the reception given when walk-ons Clyde Wade and Jared Sandridge take the floor.
Normally, their participation means No. 7-ranked Memphis is trying to run out the clock in a blowout victory. But that will all change for a little while Sunday at FedExForum.

As coach John Calipari made official late Thursday night after the Tigers wrapped up a 99-63 win over Rice, Wade and Sandridge, along with Jeremy Hunt, will continue Calipari's "Senior Day" tradition by starting Sunday against Houston.
On national television.

Against one of the few Conference USA rivals that's capable of beating Memphis.

With the Tigers in the midst of a 16-game winning streak.

"He's had a history of (starting the seniors)," Sandridge said. "We weren't sure if he was going to do that or not, but I think it's a nice way to send us out, something we're all looking forward to. We're looking forward to the opportunity and making the best of it."

Making the best of things is nothing new for Sandridge and Wade, Memphis natives whose desire to play for the Tigers trumped opportunities each had to play bigger roles in other programs, and in Sandridge's case, other sports.

Instead, both have toiled on the Tigers' scout team, helping prepare Memphis' starters with their work in practice.

Now, they are the starters, a well-earned token of appreciation that Calipari wasn't about to take away from them.

"I've just always done it," Calipari said. "I did it at Massachusetts and every year here. So whoever the seniors are, I've always started them. As long as they're not trying to do stuff they can't do, they'll be fine. I'll leave them in there as long as I can, and I'll get them back in if we get an opportunity."

For Wade, Sunday's game will actually be his second start, which in some ways brings full circle his tumultuous career at Memphis.

As a freshman in 2002-03, Wade started against Furman and finished the season with an average of 7.4 minutes in 25 appearances. Whether Wade could have continued as a regular contributor is unclear.

But he never got that chance because the next season, Wade was suspended while fighting federal fraud and conspiracy charges of which he was eventually acquitted.

Then, after he returned in 2004-05, Wade played just three games before tearing an anterior cruciate ligament, forcing the Kingsbury High alum to miss yet another season.

But Wade has not complained about his career; rather, he has focused on the experiences he's had playing for the only college team he wanted to be a part of.

"I always wanted to play for Memphis. I had some options after prep school, but this is where I wanted to be," Wade said. "I could be mad about not playing, but there's no use to have no negative attitude. Just stay positive, and good things will happen one way or another."

For Sandridge, who spent his first two years at Angelina Junior College in Texas before transferring to Memphis, playing basketball has come at the expense of his golf skills.

Despite not taking up the game seriously until high school, Sandridge is almost a scratch golfer and probably good enough to play for a number of college programs.

But he said he never considered giving up basketball to focus on golf, and part of the reason is that he's had too much fun playing his role in Memphis' 24-3 record this year and Elite Eight appearance last season.

"Cal treats us like everyone else," Sandridge said. "Everything they get, we get. So even though we're not getting as much playing time, we're still treated like the rest of the guys. The whole team is a big unit. Everybody cheers for everybody else. It's not like anybody is selfish or putting the spotlight on themselves. Everybody is able to share in the glory we've been able to experience so far."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

Artcile on Jeremy Hunt and His Mother

Through ups and downs, mom stood by Tigers' Hunt

By Dan Wolken
February 25, 2007

Nearly one year ago, Jeremy Hunt sat inside FedExForum during Senior Day -- what should have been his Senior Day -- and watched his then-former teammates enjoy everything he had thrown away.

Had Hunt taken a different path, made different choices at two critical junctures in his life, he too would have been playing for one of the best University of Memphis teams in history and soaking in the adulation of a fan base that loves its homegrown sons most of all.

Instead, Hunt was in street clothes, living under a "permanent" dismissal from the program and searching for a way to reclaim his tattered reputation.
"I wanted people to look at me like, 'He's actually a good guy,'" Hunt said. "I wanted to prove to everybody that I have changed. I've grown up. I've matured.

"I'm pretty sure everybody looks at me different now."

For some, Hunt's redemption could very well be about how many points he scores today against Houston or how far he carries No. 7 Memphis into the NCAA Tournament.

But for his mother, Gloria Hunt, who will be by his side during today's Senior Day ceremonies, it is about how her son figured out his life, earned a second chance and has made the most of it.

"It's going to be really emotional," she said, "for us to see him just walk out there with all of our fans and all of our support, for him to stand up and hold that picture up and to say, 'I did it. Here I am. I did it.'"

As Jeremy Hunt knows, this story did not have to have a happy ending. In 2004, he was charged with misdemeanor assault after an incident with his ex-girlfriend, former Lady Tigers basketball player Tamika Rogers. After going through a pre-trial diversion program, that charge is scheduled to be dropped next week.

Nine months after that incident, Hunt was involved in a physical altercation on Beale Street and dismissed from the program on Oct. 4, 2005.

When it happened, Gloria Hunt agreed with the decision, declining to make excuses for her son.

"I told him, 'You did this to yourself,'" she said. " 'You fix it.'"

That guidance, coach John Calipari said, probably contributed to university president Dr. Shirley Raines' decision last summer to allow Hunt back on the team after he had completed his degree.

"If she had taken another approach, I'm not sure Dr. Raines would have said, 'I'm going to give him another chance,'" Calipari said. "She looks at the mother and says, 'You know what? She's a good woman, and she understands. She's not going to cover for her son.' I've had some kids here where, (with the) mom and dad, son does no wrong. You can't help the kid when that's the case. There's no way the kid will ever change."

Though Hunt had changed, the decision to bring him back was a controversial one. Even large segments of the Tigers' fan base were against it, a fact Hunt was well aware of.

But Hunt has won over most of those fans, and not just with his play, which has been essential to the Tigers' 24-3 record. Though Memphis might not be in this position without Hunt's 30-point effort at UAB or his two 3-pointers in overtime at Gonzaga, he has been embraced for his role as the Tigers' statesman, their emotional leader and their counselor about the miserable existence they will endure if they get into off-court trouble.

"When you get another chance, what else do you really need to do than worry about what you have to worry about it?" senior Clyde Wade, who has been friends with Hunt since the fourth grade, said. "He grew up and realized, hey, it's going to end one day so I've got to go ahead and make the best of everything and that's what he did. I'm so happy for Jeremy, I don't know what to do."

Hunt has had the rare privilege of sharing this season with his mother, who has attended every game, home and away, traveling to far-flung places like Hawaii and Spokane, Wash., wearing a No. 5 jersey that identifies her to everyone she encounters.

"People I don't even know walk up to me and tell me how glad they are that Jeremy is back and how they can see him as a changed person," Gloria Hunt said. "His fans come up to me all the time and tell me how proud they are he's back, and they can see he's really changed.

"He puts his heart in it, he smiles, and you can tell he's really glad to have a second chance and he's making the best of it. It has been a blessing from God."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

AP Story Memphis 99, Rice 63

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -Memphis coach John Calipari wasn't focused on his team winning its second straight Conference USA title. It's just a minor step in the big picture for the No. 7 Tigers.

''I don't even know if we addressed it,'' Calipari said after the Tigers beat Rice 99-63 to clinch the title. ''So, we did win it outright? Huh. Congratulations.''

Willie Kemp scored 20 points to lead Memphis to its 16th straight win- the longest in the nation. Memphis (24-3, 13-0 C-USA) also has won 28 straight at home.

The back-to-back titles marked the first time in school history that Memphis has won consecutive outright crowns. But the championship was not even mentioned unless someone asked about it. For Memphis, the victories all are about building to the post season and a better seed.

''We're excited,'' said a reserved Antonio Anderson . ''But deep down inside, we've got so much more going on right now. Hopefully, we can celebrate in April.''

It was the third straight loss for the Owls (13-13, 7-6).

''A couple of times we missed out on assignments,'' Rice coach Willis Wilson said. ''We felt like there were a couple of (Memphis) guys that we needed to get to, and we didn't get to them. They knocked some shots down and took the wind out of our sails.''

Memphis, which started the game 0-for-7 from 3-point range, ended up shooting 47 percent from outside the arc. Kemp hit four of his six 3-pointers.

Jeremy Hunt finished with 16 points for Memphis, while Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts added 14 each.

Anderson, who had six assists, also covered Rice guard Morris Almond , the conference's leading scorer, and third-best in the nation.

He is averaging 27.2 points, but was held to just 15. Almond was 5-for-14 from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds, but also had six turnovers. Cory Pflieger scored 10 for the Owls.

''I just tried to deny him as much as I could,'' Anderson said of guarding Almond. ''They set a lot of picks for him, and he can post up, and he's really versatile.

''Being a defensive player, that's pride. This is what you build yourself on. I don't want to let him go out and destroy me and then my team lose.''

Calipari said despite his team's dominance, he's forcing them to concentrate on their play instead of worrying about their opponents. He said in facing Almond, he told the Tigers to concentrate as if it were a more important game in a postseason run.

''We played this game as if it was a game in March and we're playing against (Texas freshman Kevin) Durant,'' Calipari said. ''How are we going to play him? We were going to make sure it was going to be hard for (Almond). Maybe he gets 30 anyway. But we were going to make it hard on him.''

The Tigers carried a 52-34 lead at the half after Hunt came off the bench to pull them out of an offensive funk with 12 first-half points, all of his field goals coming from 3-point range. Anderson added 11 points, while Douglas-Roberts scored 10.

Memphis struggled early when Rice went to a zone. The Tigers misfired from outside the defense, missing their first seven 3-pointers.

That allowed Rice to put together a 14-2 run, erasing an early 9-0 Memphis lead.

With Almond on the bench with Rice holding a 19-16 lead. Memphis went on a run hitting eight 3-pointers and building the lead to 21.

''We shot the ball well,'' Calipari said. ''They were open 3s though. I think there are going to be games where people are going to have to make a choice and hope we're not making them.''

Memphis continued to maintain the lead in the second half as Kemp was the one who started connecting from 3-point range, assuring Memphis of repeating as the outright C-USA regular season champions.

And the accomplishment is somewhat blase to the Tigers.

''That's not why we're playing,'' Calipari said. ''It's not, and the league tournament is not why we're playing. That stuff is all part of the bigger picture.''

Memphis Blows Out Rice, Jeremy Hunt Joins 1,000 Point Club

Hunt provides one small moment of suspense before making his (1,000th) point

By Dan Wolken
February 23, 2007

The first time senior Jeremy Hunt had a chance to notch his 1,000th point at the University of Memphis, he trailed Andre Allen and called for the ball, swishing a 3-pointer that started his celebration.

One problem: A foul away from the play negated the shot.

But just like the Rice Owls, it was only a small inconvenience for the No. 7-ranked Tigers, who clinched the outright Conference USA title Thursday with a 99-63 victory at FedExForum.
Though the game had long since been decided when Hunt got stuck on 999, coach John Calipari left him in and told Hunt to get to the free-throw line. He did with 3:23 left but missed the first and angrily kicked his right leg into the air.

Suddenly, there was a moment of suspense -- but only a moment, and about all the Tigers could muster as they won their nation-leading 16th straight game, improving to 24-3 overall and 13-0 in C-USA.

In a game that was only close for about 13 minutes, they shot 55.1 percent from the field and made 15 of 32 from 3-point range after starting 0-for-7. They had five players score in double-figures, led by freshman Willie Kemp's 20 points. They led by 18 points at halftime, by 24 with 8:43 to go and by 34 in the game's final minutes.

But when Hunt made the second free throw, becoming the 42nd player in Memphis history to score 1,000 points, he smiled and came to the sideline, wrapping coach John Calipari in a hug worthy of his milestone.

"I've got great teammates," said Hunt, who scored 16 points on 5-of-11 from 3-point range. "They give me the ball and before they even pass to me, they tell me to shoot it. We've got confidence in each other, and it's fun to be on a team with guys like that.

"We're just having fun right now."

Though Thursday night was about Hunt, it was also about Rice senior Morris Almond, the nation's third-leading scorer who was being watched by upwards of 20 NBA scouts. Almond scored 15 points with 10 rebounds -- respectable numbers, to be sure -- but he did not come out looking better than Memphis sophomore Antonio Anderson, who chased Almond relentlessly and limited him to just a handful of good looks at the basket.

Almond, who came in averaging 27.2 points, went 5-for-14 from the field with six turnovers.

"That motivated me, trying to lock him down," Anderson said. "(Andre Allen) told me before the game, 'Lock him up.' And I just tried my best."

Anderson's defense seemed to spark his offense, which has been inconsistent at best until the past week. After passing up an open 3-pointer early, Calipari implored Anderson to shoot. And Anderson did just that, making 4-of-8 from the 3-point line on his way to a 14-point, six-assist effort.

One of those 3's, with 10:54 left in the first half, gave Memphis a 16-14 lead and started an avalanche of points that buried Rice, which led briefly in the first half after a 14-2 run.

Hunt picked up on Anderson's momentum, making four first-half threes, the last of which gave Memphis a 41-27 lead 3:36 before halftime. Kemp did the same in the second half, making 4-of-6 from long range and 8-of-10 overall.

"They were open 3's," Calipari said. "I think there are going to be games we play where people are going to have to make a choice of, 'Let's hope they're not making them.'"

Hope is about all C-USA teams have right now of preventing Memphis from steamrolling through the league undefeated. Only once has an opponent played the Tigers within single digits -- Southern Miss on Jan. 27 -- and most of the games have followed Thursday's blowout pattern.

"I think you have to (control the tempo) against this team, and it's not an easy thing to do," Rice coach Willis Wilson said. "It's much more difficult to do than to say."

Official Box Score Memphis 99, Rice 63

Official Basketball Box Score -- GAME TOTALS -- FINAL STATISTICS
Rice vs Memphis
02/22/07 6:00 pm at Memphis, Tenn. (FedExForum)
VISITORS: Rice 13-13, 7-6
13 PACKEVICIUS, Paulius f 0-4 0-0 4-4 3 2 5 3 4 1 1 2 1 29
41 BRITTON, Patrick.... f 2-7 0-0 2-3 0 0 0 2 6 0 5 0 2 28
05 WILLIAMS, Lorenzo... g 2-6 1-2 3-3 0 4 4 0 8 6 4 0 1 29
22 ALMOND, Morris...... g 5-14 1-3 4-5 1 9 10 2 15 3 6 1 1 31
32 PFLIEGER, Cory...... g 4-6 2-4 0-0 0 2 2 1 10 2 0 0 0 18
01 HAGAN, Chris........ 3-8 0-3 0-0 1 1 2 0 6 1 1 0 0 16
21 FOSTER, Rodney...... 2-5 1-3 1-2 0 2 2 0 6 2 1 0 0 17
30 BELTON, Charles..... 1-3 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 1 2 1 0 0 0 9
33 GHORAM, Lawrence.... 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
43 PERKA, Aleks........ 3-5 0-0 0-0 2 1 3 3 6 0 2 0 1 20
TEAM................ 3 1 4
Totals.............. 22-59 5-16 14-17 11 22 33 12 63 16 20 3 6 200
TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 11-28 39.3% 2nd Half: 11-31 35.5% Game: 37.3% DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 3-8 37.5% 2nd Half: 2-8 25.0% Game: 31.3% REBS
F Throw % 1st Half: 9-10 90.0% 2nd Half: 5-7 71.4% Game: 82.4% 1

HOME TEAM: Memphis 24-3, 13-0
02 Dozier, Robert...... f 4-9 0-1 2-3 2 5 7 2 10 0 3 1 1 22
32 Dorsey, Joey........ f 3-4 0-0 1-1 2 4 6 3 7 1 1 7 2 18
01 Kemp, Willie........ g 8-10 4-6 0-0 0 0 0 0 20 2 0 0 3 25
12 Anderson, Antonio... g 5-11 4-8 0-0 1 4 5 2 14 6 0 1 3 30
14 DOUGLAS-ROBERTS, C.. g 6-9 0-1 2-3 1 2 3 4 14 5 2 0 1 18
00 Wade, Clyde......... 1-1 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 4
03 Willis, Tre'Von..... 1-3 0-1 0-0 1 2 3 1 2 2 1 0 0 11
04 Niles, Pierre....... 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 3 4 1 0 0 1 0 0 10
05 Hunt, Jeremy........ 5-13 5-11 1-2 0 2 2 1 16 1 2 0 0 26
15 Allen, Andre........ 1-3 0-2 2-2 0 2 2 2 4 5 1 0 1 21
30 Sandridge, Jared.... 1-1 1-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 3 0 0 0 0 3
35 Bailey, Hashim...... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
42 Cooper, Kareem...... 3-4 0-0 0-0 1 3 4 1 6 0 1 0 0 10
55 McGrady, Chance..... 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
TEAM................ 1 1
Totals.............. 38-69 15-32 8-11 10 28 38 17 99 22 12 9 11 200
TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 20-35 57.1% 2nd Half: 18-34 52.9% Game: 55.1% DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 8-19 42.1% 2nd Half: 7-13 53.8% Game: 46.9% REBS
F Throw % 1st Half: 4-5 80.0% 2nd Half: 4-6 66.7% Game: 72.7% 2
Officials: Jim Burr, Ted Hillary, Tim Higgins
Technical fouls: Rice-None. Memphis-None.
Attendance: 15020
Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total
Rice.......................... 34 29 - 63
Memphis....................... 52 47 - 99

Points in the paint-RICE 22,MEM 46. Points off turnovers-RICE 14,MEM 29.
2nd chance points-RICE 13,MEM 8. Fast break points-RICE 4,MEM 16.
Bench points-RICE 20,MEM 34. Score tied-1 time. Lead changed-2 times.
Last FG-RICE 2nd-01:33, MEM 2nd-00:58.
Largest lead-RICE by 3 1st-11:50, MEM by 36 2nd-01:57.