Tigers Cruise to 76-63 Win
Dec. 29, 2007
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Robert Dozier had 18 points, Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 17 and second-ranked Memphis beat No. 17 Arizona 76-63 on Saturday night, the third time the Tigers have knocked off a ranked opponent this season.
"It wasn't easy," Douglas-Roberts said. "None of these games have been. We've been playing the best teams in the nation. Any one of them we could see in the Final Four. To be able to beat them, we feel like we can beat anyone."
Chase Budinger had 20 points, and Jordan Hill battled foul trouble to score 14 for the Wildcats (9-3), whose six-game winning streak ended.
"It hurts," Arizona guard Jawann McClellan said. "We had a chance, we just let it get away."
Shawn Taggart added 15 points and seven rebounds to help the Tigers (11-0) match the second-best start in school history, dating to the 1982-83 season.
Despite one of the nation's toughest schedules, Memphis still doesn't have a blemish.
"I love it," Taggart said. "Look at who we've beat. We still have some really tough games ahead. But to be where we are right now, it's hard not to be happy."
The Tigers already have defeated Georgetown, Southern California, Oklahoma, Connecticut and Cincinnati.
The strong schedule should not only make the Tigers better come March, it may bolster their bid for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
They still host Gonzaga on Jan. 26, and in-state rival Tennessee on Feb. 23. The Tigers went 16-0 against C-USA opponents last season.
"To play teams like this early in the year will help us make that push in the tournament," Calipari said. "To beat teams like this just adds confidence. We're not going to see anything in the tournament we haven't seen already."
The Wildcats suffered a huge blow before the game even began.
Arizona scoring leader Jerryd Bayless was sidelined with a sprained right knee he suffered in practice Friday and will be out an undetermined amount of time.
McClellan said the last thing the Wildcats need is another excuse.
He said they already have been dealt their biggest shot when coach Lute Olson announced earlier this year he was taking a leave of absence for personal reasons, prompting Kevin O'Neill to takeover for the 73-year-old Hall of Famer.
"I don't care what nobody says, nobody thought we'd be 9-3 at this point," McClellan said. "We've been through a lot. We've played some really good teams. To me, our season is just beginning."
Arizona closed within 53-46 with 7:52 left on a dunk by Budinger, but that was as close as the Wildcats got. Memphis slowly added to its lead, and the Wildcats crumbled at the free throw line late.
Arizona was one of the few teams this season that tried to match the speed of Memphis.
The Wildcats played their fast-pace style, and didn't sit in a zone defense like most other teams had against Memphis' attack offense.
Arizona hoped it could outlast Memphis.
"They just wore us out," Budinger said. "They just kept coming and coming at us until we couldn't keep up anymore."
The Wildcats were held without a field goal for more than 12 minutes in the first half, washing away an early eight-point lead on their way to shooting just 27.7 percent in the first 20 minutes.
The Tigers went on a 21-2 run during that stretch to go ahead 34-24 at the break, and Arizona could never catch them.
"We tried to make it so they didn't score," Taggart said. "Usually it doesn't happen that way. But we felt like they not only couldn't score on us, they couldn't even get off a shot."