Rose, Douglas-Roberts lead No. 2 Memphis to C-USA crown
Hattiesburg, MS (Sports Network) - Freshman guard Derrick Rose poured in 23 points as the No. 2 Memphis Tigers topped Southern Miss, 76-67, to clinch the Conference USA season title outright for a third straight year.
The regular season crown is Memphis' third-straight and fourth in the last five seasons. It shared the 2003-04 C-USA regular season title, but claimed the league's outright championships in 2005-06 and 2006-07.
Chris Douglas-Roberts added 22 points for the Tigers (28-1, 14-0 C-USA), who have won 37 straight conference games and are likely to move back into the top spot in the college rankings after No. 1 Tennessee was upset by Vanderbilt on Tuesday.
Jeremy Wise had a game-high 26 points for Southern Miss (15-13, 7-7), which faced its highest-ranked team ever. Craig Craft also chipped in 14 points, while Sai'Quon Stone ended with 11 and six rebounds for the Golden Eagles, losers of two straight following a three-game win streak.
Trailing by three at intermission, Southern Miss pulled in front early in the second half. The Golden Eagles used a 12-3 run to gain control, and led 43-37 on a R.L. Horton free throw at 15:07.
Memphis finally showed some life when it rattled off 11 of the next 16 points, making it 48-all on an Andre Allen layup near the midpoint.
Southern Miss looked to stop the momentum with a Craft trey, but the Tigers later moved in front, 55-54, on a pair of Douglas-Roberts free throws with 7:45 remaining.
The Memphis lead later grew to 64-56, and the Golden Eagles couldn't get closer than three the rest of the way.
Balanced scoring kept Southern Miss in the hunt throughout the first half, as home squad opened with a 5-1 lead. The Tigers then put together a 9-1 run, and on an Antonio Anderson dunk held a 10-6 lead at 15:33.
A refocused Southern Miss team then held steady the rest of the way, as the lead went back and forth.
Memphis closed the half with a Shawn Taggart layup and led 34-31 at the break.
The Tigers lead the all-time series, 55-23, and have won 12 of the last 14 meetings, including the last nine. They posted an easy 83-47 romp in Memphis back in January...Memphis has won two straight following its lone setback of the season to Tennessee...The Tigers opened their final road swing and also travel to Dallas on March 5 to face SMU in the regular-season road finale.
03/01 18:36:15 ET