Derrick Rose scores 23 points as Memphis clinches CUSA title - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Derrick Rose scores 23 points as Memphis clinches CUSA title

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Derrick Rose scored 23 points, including 11 in a 5-minute span of the second half, to help No. 2 Memphis pull away to a 76-67 victory over Southern Mississippi on Saturday.

The Tigers (28-1, 14-0) clinched their third consecutive Conference USA regular-season title with their 37th straight league win.

It was the second straight win for Memphis since its 66-62 loss to Tennessee last weekend cost the Tigers the No. 1 ranking with their first loss of the season.

The Tigers have been ranked either No. 1 or 2 for a school-record 13 straight weeks.

Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 22 points for Memphis, which struggled against Southern Miss (15-13, 7-7) almost from the beginning and led 34-31 at halftime after a quick spurt to take the lead in a back-and-forth game.

The Golden Eagles started the second half on a 12-4 run that gave them their biggest lead of the game. The highlight of the run came when R.L. Horton hit a 3-pointer, then was fouled by Willie Kemp on the right wing. Horton made the free throw to put Southern Miss ahead 43-37 with 15:04 left.

After scoring one point in the first half, Rose hit three 3-pointers, converted a three-point play and made six of seven free throws to clinch the win. His 3 with 5 minutes left made it 64-56 and Southern Miss would get no closer than three points the rest of the way.

Jeremy Wise led Southern Miss with 26 points, mostly on slashing drives to the basket. Craig Craft added 14 points for the Eagles and Sai'Quon Stone had 11.

The teams were testy to start with and a minor scuffle broke out on the court during warmups between Memphis' Joey Dorsey and Stone. Southern Miss then stood toe to toe with the Tigers in front of the first sellout crowd (8,129) at Green Coliseum since December 1996.

The Tigers were outscored 34-26 in the paint and Dorsey wasn't much of a factor, finishing with six points and six rebounds. Southern Miss also got 12 points off 11 Memphis turnovers. But the Tigers' bench outscored the Golden Eagles' 25-17 with center Shawn Taggert leading the reserves with eight points.

Memphis struggled from the free throw line again, missing nine attempts, but Rose scored the Tigers' last seven points, including four straight free throws to end the game.

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

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