(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
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
"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
The Tigers' next test comes at home Saturday against Gonzaga,
and Wojcik said he'd already spoken with Zags coach Mark Few - a
"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.