U of M proves worthy of No. 1
By: By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer
MEMPHIS (AP) — John Calipari knew his Memphis Tigers would need a little jolt right about now. That’s why he wanted to play Gonzaga at this point of the season. He got what he hoped for from the Bulldogs.
And his top-ranked Tigers still won.
Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 21 points and Derrick Rose added 19 as Memphis remained undefeated with an 81-73 victory Saturday.
“You can’t make mistakes on a team like Gonzaga,” Douglas-Roberts said. “Gonzaga will capitalize on every mistake. That’s why we needed a game like this. A lot of teams we’ve been playing aren’t capitalizing on our mistakes, so we didn’t know what to do and what not to do.”
This was the first time in school history the Tigers got to play on their own court as the top-ranked team, and they trailed for only a little more than a minute late in the first half before a sold-out crowd.
The Tigers (19-0) extended the nation’s longest home winning streak to 43 straight by showing off their athleticism and running over Gonzaga (15-5), which had a six-game winning streak.
The Bulldogs took Memphis to overtime before losing in Spokane last season. This time, they had to be happy with keeping within single digits at the end.
“You almost have to be perfect in here, and that’s a little hard to pull off,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
Antonio Anderson added 12 points for Memphis, and Joey Dorsey had nine points and 13 rebounds before fouling out late. Calipari joined Larry Finch as the only Memphis coaches with at least 200 wins, improving to 200-63 in his eighth season.
Jeremy Pargo led Gonzaga with 25 points while Josh Heytvelt added 13 and Micah Downs 11. Matt Bouldin was held to six points.
The Bulldogs pulled within 62-55 on a three-point play by Bouldin with 8:08 left.
Rose answered with two free throws, the Tigers forced Gonzaga into a shot clock violation and Douglas-Roberts hit the first of two at the line. Rose added a jumper, then Douglas-Roberts dunked for a 69-55 lead with 5:52 to go.
The Bulldogs got within six inside the final minute but no closer than that even though Memphis went 7-of-12 from the line down the stretch.
This could be the Tigers’ toughest game until Feb. 23 when they host No. 3 Tennessee. Calipari said the lesson from this game was that they could have lost on a neutral court because of how they played down the stretch.
“We break down. We hit a screen and stop with a second on the shot clock and they make a 3, and that’s what good teams do. So we needed this,” Calipari said.
Memphis made its case for staying No. 1 this time around. The Tigers lost on the road at Virginia Tech six hours after moving atop the rankings on Jan. 10, 1983.
Coach Few said Memphis is a worthy of the No. 1 ranking that they display.
“They got the pieces. They’re shooting it good. What is so impressive is that Cal has done a great job. They’re sharing it and playing hard. The environment here is really impressive too,” Few said.
These Tigers played at Tulsa on Wednesday night, which made this non-conference game that much more special. And seats were filled for the morning tipoff.
Memphis dominated on the boards behind Dorsey (40-28) but hurt Gonzaga most with 23 fast-break points — 21 off turnovers.
The Tigers opened the game by scoring the first 10 points and bringing fans to their feet. Dorsey, who grabbed 19 rebounds against Tulsa, had six of their first nine rebounds. Memphis led 25-13 on a 3-pointer by Doneal Mack and seemed on their way to a blowout.
Gonzaga settled down and finally got a chance to get into a zone defense, which helped slow the Tigers. Pargo’s basket started a 19-5 run that was capped by consecutive 3s from Downs, the second with 2:16 left giving the Bulldogs their first lead of the game at 32-30.
Douglas-Roberts tipped in his own miss, then Rose rebounded Dorsey’s missed layup in the air and slammed it down with both hands to beat the buzzer for a 35-32 halftime lead.
“We wanted to come out the first five minutes and make a statement and show everybody we’re No. 1 and we deserve to be No. 1,” Dorsey said. “We know teams are going to come at us, but we’ve got a deep team. If you can play for 40 minutes, bring it.”
The Tigers opened the second half much as they ended the first as Douglas-Roberts dunked in the opening seconds. Memphis scored seven of the first nine points for a 42-34 lead on Anderson’s fast-break dunk after Dorsey blocked Bouldin’s layup.
That prompted a timeout by Few. It didn’t help as Douglas-Roberts was fouled after the timeout, hit both free throws to give Memphis a 44-34 lead.
Memphis led by as much as 62-46 on a fast-break layup by Andre Allen with 10:27 to go.