Only One Undefeated

As the nation's last remaining undefeated team, Memphis has already separated itself from the rest of Division I.

With one more win, the top-ranked Tigers can do the same with their own program's history, as they would become the first Memphis team to start a season with 21 straight victories.

The Tigers look to win their 30th consecutive Conference USA game - including postseason - and 44th in a row at home when they face Texas-El Paso on Saturday.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Memphis -22 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 73% of bets for this game have been placed on Memphis -22 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

Memphis (20-0, 6-0) won 89-77 at Houston on Wednesday, the same night that second-ranked Kansas lost at No. 22 Kansas State to leave the Tigers as the lone unbeaten team - a feat that didn't seem to impress Memphis coach John Calipari.

"It's nice, I guess," he said.

The only other Memphis team to start a season 20-0 was the 1985-86 squad, which lost its 21st game and finished 28-6.

Wednesday's victory also made Memphis the last unbeaten in C-USA play, as the Cougars suffered their first league loss. Chris Douglas-Roberts had 30 points on 9-of-13 shooting for Memphis, which made 58.5 percent from the field, and Joey Dorsey grabbed 22 rebounds to help the Tigers build a 49-29 edge on the boards.

Those performances allowed Memphis to overcome a season-high 22 turnovers.

"We turned it over a few too many times, but we played well," Calipari said. "What you saw was one of our best efforts."

It may have been Robert Dozier's best effort, as the junior forward scored a career-high 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting, ending a string of four straight games in which he failed to reach double digits.

The win was Memphis' closest conference game this season, as the Tigers have predictably rolled through a league which they lead in nearly every statistical category.

They've won their conference games by an average of 25.7 points, and have been even more dominant in their two league wins at home, outscoring East Carolina and Southern Miss by a combined 182-105.

"There's no question that they're ridiculously talented and very well coached," UTEP coach Tony Barbee told his school's official Web site. "And the energy in the building is going to be incredible."

Barbee, in his second season as coach of the Miners, will be making his first trip back to Memphis after spending six seasons as an assistant under Calipari from 2000-06. UTEP freshmen Randy Culpepper and Gabriel McCulley are Memphis natives.

UTEP (13-6, 4-2) has won two straight, but the Miners have yet to win on the road in conference play, with their C-USA road losing streak at eight. They allowed Central Florida to shoot 70.2 percent from the field in a 109-80 loss Jan. 23.

However, they beat Southern Miss 90-79 at home Wednesday, as Stefon Jackson shot 6-of-11 from 3-point range and scored 33 points. The Miners shot 55.6 percent from the field and made 12 of 26 3-pointers, winning despite getting outrebounded 35-23.

Jackson, a 6-foot-5 junior guard, leads C-USA and is sixth in the nation at 24.0 points per game.

UTEP hasn't faced a top-ranked team since 1979, and hasn't beaten one since knocking off Kentucky 72-65 in the national championship game in 1966. The Miners have lost 16 straight road contests against ranked teams.

They haven't beaten Memphis since the 1971-72 season, though they have played the Tigers tough the last two seasons since joining C-USA.

Then-No. 4 Memphis won 66-56 at home on Feb. 22, 2006 before winning 78-67 at UTEP on March 1, 2007 as the nation's sixth-ranked team.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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