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Monday, February 18, 2008

Tigers replay: U of M vs. UAB

Tigers replay: U of M vs. UAB
Sunday, February 17, 2008


Before Memphis' remarkable comeback, the Tigers seemingly missed their best opportunities when both Antonio Anderson and Derrick Rose came up 0-for-2 from the free-throw line with 3:34 and 3:11 remaining, respectively. Those misses left Memphis down 77-70 after Raleigh-Egypt alumnus Lawrence Kinnard made two on the other end. Then, after sophomore Doneal Mack missed a 3-pointer for Memphis, UAB probably should have taken some time off the clock. Instead, Kinnard quickly missed a contested layup. Then, with 1:27 left, UAB star Robert Vaden was called for traveling. Still, it appeared the Tigers' undefeated season was over until Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts made consecutive 3-pointers, the latter with 38 seconds to go.

Perhaps this idea of bringing senior Joey Dorsey off the bench isn't so hot after all. Without the 6-9 forward in the game, Memphis got exposed in the paint early on as sophomore Jeremy Mayfield scored over sophomore Shawn Taggart on consecutive possessions to give UAB an 8-7 lead. And the rotation didn't even have the intended effect, which is primarily to keep Dorsey out of foul trouble early. Dorsey came into the game with 14:39 to go in the first half and committed his first foul just 43 seconds later. Then, with 7:53 remaining in the half, Dorsey committed his second foul, bumping into Frank Holmes, allowing a score anyway. He went to the bench with no rebounds and played poorly for all 22 minutes he was in the game, scoring one point with two rebounds.


The Tigers did not get many easy looks in transition Saturday, but they took a 51-49 lead early in the second half on one of them. After Anderson missed a 3-pointer, UAB got the ball out of bounds under Memphis' basket. The Tigers set up their press, which Blazers guard Ed Berrios tried to dribble through. Instead, Berrios lost the ball off his leg and into the hands of Rose. He quickly got the ball to Dozier, who completed a tic-tac-toe breakout to Douglas-Roberts flying in from the left side for a two-hand slam. UAB coach Mike Davis immediately called timeout after the basket.


Either the Tigers' scouting report was faulty or they simply did not defend Vaden with much intelligence. Three times in the first half, Memphis made fundamental defensive mistakes, leaving Vaden wide open for 3-pointers that he dropped in to help UAB lead 43-41. With 11:14 left in the first half, Anderson bit on a shot fake, allowing Vaden a clear look from the top of the key. Then, with 5:06 left in the half, Anderson lunged at a pass intended for Vaden. The gamble didn't pay off, as Anderson failed to get his hand on the ball, leaving Vaden open again. And with just a couple of seconds left in the half, Taggart again fell for the fake and the outcome was predictable as Vaden splashed in his 14th point.


For both teams, the bulk of the scoring was done by a couple of star players. Anderson and Douglas-Roberts scored 59 points for Memphis, while the rest of the team had just 20. For UAB, Vaden and Kinnard scored 46 as a duo. Though Channing Toney chipped in 10 points for the Blazers, the other seven players combined for 22points.


"It was the best environment we've played in, and you expected it to be heated. Students do that. What, do you expect the students to be happy? They were into it, and all I told our guys was just get off the floor. You don't deal with it. You think they're going to kiss you on the lips? You just beat them in a tough, hard game." -- Memphis coach John Calipari, on the shower of debris thrown by the UAB student section after the final horn.


Memphis trailed at halftime for the second game in a row. Before its 37-35 deficit against Houston on Wednesday, the Tigers led at halftime in 16 straight games, dating to the Dec. 4 game against Southern California when they trailed 29-24.

Taggart appeared to hurt his right knee with 9:02 left, the same knee he had surgery on last season to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. But he came back and played down the stretch. At some point, however, Taggart also broke his nose, according to Calipari. Calipari said he did not know whether Taggart broke his nose during the game or in the fracas after the final buzzer. Taggart declined to be interviewed after the game.

UAB broke out its gold uniforms for the first time in Davis' two seasons as head coach.

The Tigers didn't break any backboards this year in their trip to Bartow Arena. Last season's nationally televised game was delayed by nearly half an hour when former Memphis center Kareem Cooper dunked a ball during warm-ups, which caused a problem with the basket that could not be repaired in time. UAB officials had to use their backup basket. Memphis was not assessed a technical foul but should have been for dunking a ball during warm-ups, which is not allowed because of that very issue.

Alan Graf, chief financial officer for FedEx, was among the boosters sitting behind the Tigers' bench Saturday.


Tigers at Tulane, 7 p.m. Wednesday

-- Dan Wolken

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