Unranked Memphis makes Drexel pay
Posted: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 6:28 pm
MEMPHIS (AP) — Memphis fell out of the rankings at about the same time it was dropping a 38-point loss on Drexel.
Tyreke Evans scored 20 points and four other Tigers finished in double figures as Memphis pulled away early and easily beat the Dragons 87-49 Monday.
The convincing win came a bit too late for the struggling Tigers, who lost to then-No. 11 Syracuse on Saturday after a close win over Arkansas-Little Rock.
“It hurts, but I can’t lie,” forward Shawn Taggart said. “I don’t think we deserve to be in the Top 25.”
Memphis was ranked No. 23 before Saturday’s 72-65 loss to the Orange, and played like a team about to drop out of the polls later Monday. When the Tigers did, they snapped a string of 64 weeks in the Top 25, leaving UCLA with the longest run in the polls. Memphis was last unranked at the end of the 2004-05 season.
Despite an early lead, the Tigers’ uninspired play drew the wrath of Memphis coach John Calipari, who was screaming at his players throughout the half. Calipari chastised them about one-handed rebounds, bellowed about his team not playing hard and pleaded with them to communicate on defense.
His voice echoed among the smaller-than-usual midday crowd. At times, Calipari’s antics drew snickers from fans who could hear his instructions clearly.
“What’s happened is, I’ve had to do it like I’m on the court,” Calipari said of his coaching. “This is what this team needs. It’s tiring though, and I’d rather coach like I did a year ago.
“If (this year’s team) thinks it’s acceptable, that’s what they do. If you demand a lot, you get a lot. If you accept mediocrity, which I’ve been accepting, that’s what you get every time.”
Evans was 8-of-14 from the field as Memphis rebounded from Saturday’s loss to No. 11 Syracuse.
Robert Dozier had 14 points for Memphis on 6-of-9 shooting including both 3-pointers, while Taggart finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. Roburt Sallie added 11 for Memphis, while Doneal Mack had 10.
“They’re long across the board, staring with their point guard (Wesley Witherspoon) at 6-8,” Drexel associate head coach Mike Connors said. “Then, from there, they aren’t shrinking. Guys coming off the bench are just as big, and probably their smallest guy matches up with our biggest guard. Their size and athleticism is incredible.”
Connors ran the Dragons while head coach Bruiser Flint was serving a one-game suspension after receiving two technicals in the Dragons’ 81-75 loss at Bucknell on Saturday night. Under Colonial Athletic Association rules, the ejection comes with a one-game suspension.
That meant Flint, a former assistant to Calipari, would not face his former boss, but Connors, Drexel’s associate head coach, also worked under Calipari for three years at Massachusetts.
Drexel shot 21 percent in the first half, missed five of its six 3-pointers and committed 11 turnovers. That contributed to Memphis building a double-digit lead early, fueled by 14 unanswered points as the Dragons went more than 7 minutes without a field goal.
The second half proved better for Memphis, particularly from outside the arc, where they opened 6-of-9 from 3-point range while continuing to extend the lead, eventually reaching 44 late in the game.
Memphis shot 56 percent after halftime, including 67 percent outside the arc.
Drexel finished the game shooting 28 percent, while committing 18 turnovers.