|Douglas-Roberts, Rose help Memphis overcome scrappy newcomer Texas-Arlington|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 21 March 2008 23:41|
The best one? The final score.
The top-seeded Tigers overcame their own raggedness, not to mention a scrappy effort by newcomer Texas-Arlington, with an 83-67 victory Friday night in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
``The first game is a hard one for everybody,'' Calipari said. ``You hope you just come out and blow somebody out, but the other team is playing inspired. It just doesn't happen very often.''
There's no question the Tigers (34-1) are one of the most talented teams in the country. They were ranked No. 1 for five weeks, three as the unanimous choice. They have more talent than some NBA teams, and so much depth that the backups would probably be starters at most other schools.
Because Memphis isn't in one of the power conferences and hasn't been to a Final Four since 1985, though, some will always question whether the Tigers are for real. Friday night's game probably won't help.
Chris Douglas-Roberts led five Tigers in double figures with 23 points, and also had seven rebounds and four assists. Freshman Derrick Rose looked like a veteran with 17 points, three assists and three steals. Memphis shot 52 percent from the floor, and outrebounded smaller Texas-Arlington 39-29.
But big ole Anthony Vereen scored practically at will inside, finishing with 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting, and the Mavericks were over 50 percent from the floor for much of the game. The Mavericks (21-12) even led briefly, delighting their small but vocal band of followers.
``They had to play their guys for 40 minutes,'' Texas-Arlington coach Scott Cross said. ``They were playing their top guys, and we gave them everything that we had.''
While a true rout - a la UCLA or North Carolina - would have been easier, it might have hurt the Tigers in the long run. They hadn't played since winning the Conference USA tournament last Saturday, and a rough-and-tumble game was just what they needed to get them ready for all the other teams eager to knock them off.
Up next, eighth-seeded Mississippi State (23-10).
``This shows how the rest of the tournament is going to be,'' Douglas-Roberts said. ``The next game is going to be even tougher. I'm glad they came out and challenged us, and they really did compete out there.''
After Texas-Arlington took a 6-3 lead in the opening minutes, Douglas-Roberts made a layup that sparked a 15-2 run that ended any chance the Mavericks had of a historic upset. Texas-Arlington stayed (relatively) close in the first half, but Memphis settled into a rhythm in the second half and put the game away.
``The time off, the body-to-body contact that we hadn't done in five days, it showed,'' Calipari said. ``I think they realize if they do that next game, it's been a heck of a year. It's not going to extend.''
Texas 74, Austin Peay 54, South Region
Not even a hostile crowd could faze the Longhorns. Though the Arkansas fans certainly tried.
A.J. Abrams scored 26 points for second-seeded Texas, and the Longhorns (29-6) put on a dazzling display of balance and power as they overwhelmed the 15th-seeded Governors.
Bad blood still lingers in Arkansas and Texas from the days of the border battles in the old Southwest Conference. There were a loud chorus of boos when the first burnt orange uniforms were spotted - and that was just the Texas band. The Longhorns got an even ruder welcome when they came out for pregame warmups, while Austin Peay got a thunderous cheer.
Once the game started, though, Texas quieted Austin Peay (24-10) and the crowd.
``When we play somebody of this caliber, as I told the guys, I sometimes lay awake at night worrying about how we're going to score against people that are that size,'' Austin Peay coach Dave Loos said. ``Those were the issues today. I do think that if we could have somehow made a couple of shots early, maybe we could have been a little more competitive.''
Four Longhorns finished in double figures - Abrams, Connor Atchley (12) and Dexter Pittman (11) almost outscored Austin Peay on their own.
Texas' victory set up a second-round game with former Longhorns assistant Frank Haith, now the coach at Miami.
Mississippi State 76, Oregon 69, South Region
Charles Rhodes kept Mississippi State in the game. When his teammates finally started helping, the Bulldogs rallied to win.
Rhodes scored a career-high 34 points and the eighth-seeded Bulldogs overcame a 13-point, second-half deficit against ninth-seeded Oregon. Barry Stewart added 16 points, all in the second half.
``If you're a shooter, you keep shooting. You don't lose confidence in your shot,'' Stewart said. ``You've just got to keep shooting and they fell tonight.''
Before Stewart begin contributing, Rhodes kept Mississippi State (23-10) in the game almost by himself. Oregon's offense then went into disarray. The Ducks (18-14) went 9-for-38 from 3-point range, including 2-for-21 in the second half.
Mississippi State's Jamont Gordon scored eight points on 2-for-14 shooting, but the 6-foot-4 point guard added 11 rebounds and nine assists. The Bulldogs' Jarvis Varnado finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. He's blocked 152 shots this season, five fewer than Shaquille O'Neal when Shaq set the Southeastern Conference record in 1991-92.
Miami 78, Saint Mary's 64, South Region
The Hurricanes' Jack McClinton scored as many points in the second half (32) as the entire Saint Mary's team.
McClinton finished with 38, helping seventh-seeded Miami overcome an early seven-point deficit. The 10th-seeded Gaels were led by Patty Mills, who scored 24.
And here's a scary thought: McClinton might not have been at full strength.
``I had a fever a couple of days before the game,'' he said. ``Our trainers got us on the meds and I felt pretty good for the game today.''
McClinton scored 10 straight points for Miami early in the second half, part of a 25-5 run that gave the Hurricanes a 52-38 lead. Miami (23-10) missed all six of its 3-point attempts in the first half, but McClinton made three in the second.
When Saint Mary's (25-7) pulled within eight at 64-56, McClinton calmly sank an open 3 from the left corner.