Memphis, John Calipari dealing with 1st loss of season ahead of game with Tulsa Print
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Tuesday, 26 February 2008 13:17
NCAAB Headline News


 MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -Ticket requests, pep rallies and a 24-hour countdown clock were among the distractions Memphis faced ahead of the No. 1 vs. No. 2 game.
Then there was Tennessee.
The Tigers got a heavy dose of attention and stumbled in a four-point loss to Tennessee on their home court last weekend. It also knocked Memphis out of the No. 1 slot.
``You had a chance to deal with it, and guess what? We didn't deal with it very well,'' Memphis coach John Calipari said Tuesday in a conference call. ``All of 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.
``I told them that the win streak, the home court, the regular season, all the things that they had done, No. 1 in the country, to get us to that point for five weeks, was an unbelievable run,'' Calipari said.
Now ranked No. 2, the Tigers (26-1, 12-0 Conference USA) will try to bounce back Wednesday night against Tulsa (15-10, 6-6). The Golden Hurricane held them to their lowest point total, 56-41, on Jan. 23 in Oklahoma.
At Monday's practice, Calipari asked his players about needed improvements and they pointed to five areas, he said.
They were outrebounded on the offensive boards 19-10 and outhustled. Calipari said those aspects involved game preparation, which was his fault.
``I got into that rut 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.
Against Tennessee, freshman Derrick Rose scored 23 points but turning the ball over and took some difficult shots. Chris Douglas-Roberts, Joey Dorsey and Robert Dozier also struggled.
Calipari said Antonio Anderson offset great defense on Chris Lofton by going after a steal at a critical time. And Memphis was 8-of-17 from the free-throw line.
``Their free throws for them ended up icing the game,'' Calipari said.
The big challenge will be recovering from the rare feeling of losing - in the case of Rose, it was his first in college.
Now they face Tulsa, a winner of five straight games.
``Hopefully, we're not going to be so zapped of energy,'' Calipari said.
The loss reminded him that all teams have weaknesses.
``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,'' he said.
``If you think there are teams right now that don't have issues, you don't understand. Every team does.''
 

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