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Friday, January 25, 2008

Postgame blog: Memphis 56, Tulsa 41

Postgame blog: Memphis 56, Tulsa 41
Posted by Dan Wolken

The Tigers needed that.

A lot of national commentators think Memphis can just roll the ball out in a Conference USA game and chalk up a win regardless of the circumstances. Having been at all these games, I can assure you it’s never that easy. While it’s true that 5-6 teams in this league simply aren’t capable of putting up any resistence, the Tigers got challenged several times last year in league play (remember Southern Miss, UTEP, at Houston, etc.) and will get challenged several times again this season. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Sure, it’s fun to beat everybody by 30, as Memphis had done against the bottom-half programs like Marshall, Southern Miss, Rice and East Carolina. But it’s awful hard to learn from those games, awful hard to figure out how you’re going to function in a tighter game, awful hard to extend your starters like you need to do in the NCAA Tournament. That’s why games like last night are a valuable experience for the Tigers.

Having said that, nobody is going watch tape from last night and rave about the Tigers as a No. 1-ranked team. They probably took more bad shots last night than in any game this season, which helps account for the 8 airballs they shot. Robert Dozier and Joey Dorsey got nothing done offensively. Antonio Anderson wasn’t on his best stuff. Chris Douglas-Roberts was hot early, then completely disappeared for 20 minutes before coming back strong down the stretch. Derrick Rose was really good in stretches, but he didn’t take over the game when things got tight. Doneal Mack and Willie Kemp weren’t much of a factor off the bench. Andre Allen didn’t play one of his best games. And, of course, Shawn Taggart was the hero with 12 second-half points.

Defensively, the Tigers were good, though not as good as the numbers would indicate. Tulsa shot 30.9 percent, but they missed several wide-open 3-pointers and a couple layups early in the second half that could have changed the complexion of the game. Ben Uzoh, a really good scorer, had a bad night (3-for-9). And freshman Glenn Andrews, who had been shooting the ball exceptionally well, went 1-for-12. So the Tigers were a little bit lucky in that respect.

I am confident the Tigers will play better against Gonzaga, though it’s still a game they could lose. Gonzaga has a lot of talent, and they’re finally healthy enough to win a game like this.

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