Calipari's Tigers try to bounce back from 1st loss of season - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Calipari's Tigers try to bounce back from 1st loss of season

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Families, ticket requests, pep rallies and a massive buildup of hype that even included a 24-hour countdown clock. It's the kind of attention most teams must face in the NCAA tournament.

The Memphis Tigers got a heavy dose of it and stumbled.

The result was a 66-62 loss to Tennessee on the Tigers' home-court last weekend, a loss that knocked Memphis out of the No. 1 slot it had held for the past five weeks.

"You had a chance to deal with it, and guess what?" Memphis coach John Calipari said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. "We didn't deal with it very well. All that is a great experience."

Sure, they lost to Ohio State in a regional final last March. But this was their first home loss in 47 games going back to Jan. 2, 2006, and their first regular season loss in 45 games going back to Dec. 20, 2006, at Arizona.

Now ranked No. 2, it's still just the first loss for the Tigers (26-1, 12-0 Conference USA). They will try to bounce back Wednesday night against Tulsa (15-10, 6-6), the team that held them to their lowest point total in a 56-41 on Jan. 23.

At Monday's practice, Calipari had his players tell him five areas as a team to work on and improve. He said he asked them if he could have asked about their weaknesses if they had beaten Tennessee. He said they nodded their heads, "No."

That includes being outrebounded offensively 19-10 and being outplayed by a team that wanted the game more. Calipari said that involved game preparation, which was his fault.

"I got into that route of not wanting to change what was working, even though I knew the tough stuff, the intensity of a couple of our inside guys, that there were things that were lacking ... But we were winning, and I didn't want to screw up our rhythm," he said.

Calipari saw Derrick Rose turning the ball over and taking some tough shots that hurt Memphis, despite his 23 points. Chris Douglas-Roberts, Joey Dorsey and Robert Dozier also struggled, and Calipari said Antonio Anderson offset great defense on Chris Lofton by going after a steal at the worst time while regressing a bit offensively.

They settled for 3-point shots too often instead of driving to the basket. They got little help from their bench and Calipari said reserves who had been complaining about playing time in big games must show him they deserve it.

The big challenge will be recovering from the rare feeling of losing - in the case of the freshman Rose, it was his first in college.

Tulsa's also on a hot streak, having won five straight games.

"Hopefully, we're not going to be so zapped of energy that we're not going to be able to battle these guys because it's going to be a war," Calipari said.

The loss reminded him that all teams have their weaknesses to correct or cover up.

"Whoever can deal with those issues the best and in the most positive way and enjoy dealing with them are going to be good at the end of the year and keep his team rolling. If you think there are teams right now that don't have issues, you don't understand. Every team does," he said.


(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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