|College Basketball: Memphis Tigers defeat UConn to win preseason tournament|
|Saturday, 17 November 2007 03:42|
Memphis Wins Tourney
Chris Douglas-Roberts watched as Connecticut chipped away at his Memphis team's lead. Then Roberts stepped up and showed coach John Calipari that his lackluster performance a night earlier was a fluke.
Douglas-Roberts scored a career-high 33 points and the No. 3 Tigers, after racing out to a big early lead, held on to beat Connecticut 81-70 on Friday night in the championship game of the tournament benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.
Although Douglas-Roberts didn't get an actual earful from Calipari after scoring just 12 points in a victory over Oklahoma on Thursday, but may has well have.
``I think he got the message,'' Calipari said. ``He was so lackadaisical'' against Oklahoma, Calipari said of Douglas-Roberts. ``But it's so early in the season.''
Douglas-Roberts, the tournament MVP, broke open a close game during a decisive second-half run, hitting a pair of free throws with the game knotted at 60 and less than nine minutes to play. That set off a 16-5 spurt capped by his jumper with 3:55 left, putting the game out of reach.
``We knew Connecticut is a good team and they were going to make a run,'' Douglas-Roberts said. ``If we get nervous any time a team like that makes a run, we're in trouble.''
Freshman sensation Derrick Rose added a career-high 24 points for the Tigers, who opened an early 15-point lead but found themselves trailing by one at the half. Rose looked every bit the first-year player running the point, though, turning the ball over five times without an assist.
``I called a timeout and went right at him,'' said Calipari, who threatened to bench Rose if he put up another circus shot. ``But he's going to be a pretty good player - pretty good right now.''
A.J. Price scored 23 to lead Connecticut (3-1), often playing much bigger than his 6-foot-2 frame. He routinely threw himself among the Memphis forwards, slicing through the lane to help the Huskies rally in the first half and stay close after the break.
``A.J. I thought led us back,'' Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. ``One guy sitting 3 inches from me (in the crowd) said, 'I'm taking the early train back.' But we fought back and I was very proud of that.''
Jerome Dyson scored 14 of his 17 points after halftime for UConn, which also got 11 points and nine rebounds from Hasheem Thabeet.
Memphis forward Joey Dorsey, who aggravated a shoulder injury in the semifinal against Oklahoma, played sparingly in the first half and finished with four points and 12 rebounds, most of those on the defensive end as the Tigers (4-0) pulled away.
It was the first time Calhoun and Calipari, bitter rivals from when Calipari led Massachusetts, had faced each other in 17 years. Back then, the brash, young UMass coach invaded New England to steal away future NBA star Marcus Camby and plenty of Calhoun's thunder.
But all that was years ago, before Calipari moved on to the NBA and long before he took over at Memphis.
Both say tensions have eased. Calhoun called Memphis ``one of the finest teams in America'' after beating Gardner-Webb in the semifinals, even before he knew that the Tigers would dispatch Oklahoma in Thursday's nightcap.
The Tigers raced to their big lead with a frenetic pace that left Connecticut dazed and disheveled. In one stretch Dorsey slammed an alley-oop from Willie Kemp, Robert Dozier blocked a dunk attempt at the other end, and Rose layed in a windmilling scoop high off the glass to make it 18-3 barely five minutes in.
``Obviously Rose is a great, great young player,'' Calhoun said. ``And if Douglas-Roberts isn't a first-team All-American, somebody is making a serious mistake.''
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