Tigers First Defense of #1 a Success at Tulsa - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Jarvis Greer

Tigers First Defense of #1 a Success at Tulsa

(AP) - Without another standout performance off the

bench, Memphis' second chance to be the top-ranked team in the

country might have ended in defeat, just like the first time.

Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 20 points, and reserve Shawn

Taggart scored 12 of his 14 in the second half to help No. 1

Memphis beat pesky Tulsa 56-41 Wednesday night and avoid the fate

that befell the Tigers their only other time with the No. 1 ranking

25 years earlier.

"We always were No. 1 in our eyes, but now they finally put us

in their top notch," said Taggart, who had his third-highest point

total of the season. "We're going to go out there and we're going

to play exactly how we played when we were No. 3 and exactly how we

played when we were No. 2."

After winning each of its last six games by at least 20 points,

Memphis (18-0, 5-0 Conference USA) didn't take a double-digit lead

until Douglas-Roberts' two-handed jam with 6:21 remaining made it

48-38.

Freshman point guard Derrick Rose set up the dunk by tipping

away Calvin Walls' pass and then tracking it down in the frontcourt

before firing a pass to Douglas-Roberts.

Taggart followed with a 3-pointer - only his sixth in 11

attempts this season - and Douglas-Roberts added a layup off a

baseline inbounds pass as Memphis reeled off nine straight points

to go up 54-38 with 4:02 left.

Memphis coach John Calipari thought for a while that the ascent

to No. 1 might have been affecting his team's performance. By the

end, he decided it was more about the impact of the ranking on his

opponent.

"You know it's inspiring the other team. You've got to hope

that it's inspiring to your team even more," Calipari said. "If

it becomes an anvil around their neck, let's lose. If it becomes

something that drags us back, let's lose.

"I think a lot of this had to do with Tulsa."

The last time Memphis reached No. 1, Virginia Tech was waiting

hours later to pull off a 64-56 upset on Jan. 10, 1983. It took the

school just over a quarter-century to get back to the top.

"I've been wanting to be No. 1 since I was a freshman. It was

great for me," said senior Joey Dorsey, who had a career-high 19

rebounds to pass 1,000 for his career. "I ain't trying to lose it.

I'm trying to be No. 1 until the year's over."

Walls scored 12 points to lead the Golden Hurricane (9-7, 1-3),

which dispatched the triangle-and-two defense for the first time

and also relied on the 2-3 zone instead of coach Doug Wojcik's

usual man-to-man style.

"I'm not sure that anybody does a better job of preparing their

team for us than what Doug does," Calipari said. "The problem is

that when you're playing them early in the season, he exposes some

of the stuff for other people to kind of come after you a little

bit."

The Tigers' next test comes at home Saturday against Gonzaga,

and Wojcik said he'd already spoken with Zags coach Mark Few - a

close friend.

"I'm proud of my guys. ... We really had a chance tonight,"

Wojcik said. "We really did."

The Tigers' inside tandem of Dorsey and Robert Dozier was

neutralized much of the night by 7-footer Jerome Jordan, and the

Tigers couldn't get much going from outside.

Memphis shot only 37.9 percent, its third-lowest mark of the

season, and was 4-for-16 from 3-point range but was able to make up

for it by holding the Golden Hurricane to their season-low in

scoring and only 22 percent shooting in the second half.

Dorsey, who was held scoreless Saturday against Southern Miss,

had only two points, Dozier had three and fellow starter Antonio

Anderson didn't score. Rose had 14 points.

"Robert Dozier laid an egg today. It's the worst I've seen him

play," Calipari said. "It was because they were physical, they

jammed him, they did things to make him shoot shots.

"But then all of a sudden, you go with Shawn Taggart and Shawn

Taggart's like a monster. That's the greatest thing about having

depth and having a lot of guys that can play."

Tulsa drew its first sellout crowd in over two years, and the

first capacity crowd at the Reynolds Center for an opponent other

than Oklahoma since sixth-ranked Gonzaga visited in February 2004.

"Doug had them ready, their team was excited about playing,

their fans were excited about it, and Shawn Taggart spoiled their

party," Calipari said.

"Let me say it again: Shawn Taggart spoiled their party,

because the rest of us were just OK."

The Tigers host Gonzaga Saturday morning, 11am at FedExForum.

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