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Monday, February 18, 2008

Preview: No. 1 Tigers vs. UAB

Preview: No. 1 Tigers vs. UAB
Saturday, February 16, 2008

7 p.m. Bartow Arena, Birmingham, Ala.

CSS, WREC-AM (600)

Records: Memphis 24-0 (10-0), UAB 17-7 (7-2)

Series: Memphis leads, 24-10

Matchup to watch

Antonio Anderson vs. Robert Vaden

The Tigers will most likely sic their junior defensive stopper on UAB's Vaden, a dangerous 3-point shooter who can also bang down low. Vaden is hitting at better than 40 percent from beyond the arc, but is also comfortable posting up. Anderson, who relishes such challenges, will receive one of his toughest physical challenges of the year from the Indiana transfer and focal point of the Blazers' offense.

Memphis, which just completed a four-game homestand, plays its first road game in 17 days when it travels to UAB to open a two-game Conference USA road swing. The Tigers will go to Tulane on Wednesday before returning home to face Tennessee next Saturday. ... Memphis has not lost on an opponent's floor since a Dec. 21, 2006 setback at Arizona, a span of 424 days and 15 games. ... With two more victories, coach John Calipari will reach the 400-win mark for his career. He has led the Tigers to 10 or more conference wins in seven of his eight seasons ... Memphis swept UAB in the regular season a year ago, winning 70-56 in Birmingham and 79-54 at FedExForum. The Tigers, however, have dropped two of their previous three games at Bartow Arena. ... Memphis moved up a spot to No. 3 in the RPI following Wednesday's victory over Houston. ... The Tigers' 68-59 win over the Cougars was just their fourth single-digit victory of the season. They have won 24 games by an average margin of 20.2 points. ... Senior forward Joey Dorsey averages 12.8 rebounds per game in six meetings with the Blazers. That's well above his overall career average of 8.2. Dorsey needs 17 rebounds to equal Forest Arnold for second all-time among Memphis players. Arnold grabbed 1,109 from 1953-56. ... The two free throws Houston attempted against Memphis on Wednesday were the fewest allowed by the Tigers all season. The previous low was six against Tulsa.

Introducing the Blazers

UAB has won five of its last six games, its lone loss during that span coming in a 93-85 double-overtime setback Feb. 5 at Southern Miss. ... The Blazers are No. 79 in the RPI, their best wins coming against Cincinnati (No. 76) and Kentucky (No. 84). ... The Blazers suffered a blow in December when sophomore forward Walter Sharpe was ruled academically ineligible for the second semester. The Mississippi State transfer was averaging 14.8 points and a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game. ... Junior forward Lawrence Kinnard has been more effective coming off the bench for the Blazers than in a starting role. The former Raleigh-Egypt player is averaging 14.9 points and shooting 48.3 percent from the field in a reserve role. As a starter, those numbers dip to 8.1 ppg and 35 percent. ... Junior guard Channing Toney, who came to UAB from Georgia, is scoring 12.1 ppg after sitting out the first semester due to NCAA transfer rules. ... UAB will be hosting a No. 1-ranked team for just the second time in school history. Top-ranked Cincinnati won 93-80 at Bartow Arena on Feb. 5, 2000. The Blazers are 1-1 overall against top-ranked opponents. They knocked off No. 1 Kentucky during the second round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament, 76-75. ... Junior guard Ed Berrios scored a career-best 15 points, hitting five 3-pointers, in Wednesday's win at Rice. ... UAB is 15-4 since a 2-3 start that included losses to Florida State, Georgia Southern and Rhode Island at the Glenn Wilkes Classic in Daytona Beach, Fla.

-- Jim Masilak

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