Memphis,Tn - After serving under John Calipari for seven seasons at Massachusetts, James "Bruiser" Flint took over the Minutemen when Calipari left for the New Jersey Nets in 1996.
Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook Sportsbook.com have made the Memphis –22 point spread favorites for Wednesday’s game against the Drexel. Current College Basketball Public Betting Information shows that 74% of more than 248 bets for this game have been placed on the Memphis –22.
Flint was on Calipari's staff with the Minutemen from 1989-96, helping them reach the 1996 Final Four before succeeding Calipari. He made two NCAA tournament appearances in five seasons at UMass before resigning in 2001, and is 120-99 in his seven-plus seasons with the Dragons, whom he has led to four NIT appearances.
But Calipari may be looking beyond the reunion, as he tries to solve his team's inconsistency. The Tigers, who reached the NCAA tournament title game last season, lost 72-65 to No. 11 Syracuse on Saturday for their third defeat in the last five games.
Poor shooting and sloppy play have plagued Memphis recently. It has shot 34.2 percent its last three games, including a woeful 20.8 percent (15-for-72) from 3-point range. The Tigers also matched a season high with 20 turnovers Saturday and have averaged 17.3 in their last three games.
Memphis missed 17 of its first 18 3-point attempts and finished 7-for-33 from beyond the arc. Freshman guard and leading scorer Tyreke Evans has paralleled the Tigers' struggles, going 12-for-42 the last three games and went 0-for-5 from 3-point range against Syracuse.
Evans finished with a season-low five points, ending a streak of eight straight games in double figures, and dropping his team-leading average to 14.9 points.
The struggles have left Calipari struggling for answers. After Saturday's loss, the Memphis coach said his team seemed "a little shook, and they shouldn't be," and he also referenced the 2006-07 team that started 8-3 but went on a 25-game winning streak that ended in an Elite Eight loss to top-ranked Ohio State.
"I am just trying to figure out what are we, what kind of team do we need to be and how do we need to play to win," he said. "I have not figured that out yet, obviously. But we've been here before. ... The difference was, guys never pointed fingers. They got hungry and they went back to work, and they went and played."
Calipari said sophomore guard Roburt Sallie will get more playing time. He has averaged only 10.5 minutes and 4.8 points, but may be the team's best 3-point shooter, having made 11 of 26 (42.3 percent).
Drexel has lost four straight and started a six-game road trip with an 81-75 defeat at Bucknell on Saturday. Senior Scott Rodgers and sophomore Gerald Colds combined for 45 of those 75 points with Rodgers scoring a season-high 24.
The two guards are the team's top scorers with Rodgers averaging 14.6 points and Colds contributing 11.3 per game.
The Dragons have gone 1-8 over ranked opponents in the past 11 seasons, with its only win coming over then-No. 23 Syracuse 84-79 on Dec. 19, 2006.
Drexel won the only meeting between the teams, a first-round 75-63 upset as a No. 12 seed in the 1996 NCAA tournament.
Posted: 12/22/08 1:50AM ET