Tennessee and Memphis Win to Set Up No. 1 vs. No. 2 Showdown
Feb. 21, 2008
Story courtesy of the Associated Press
Let the hype begin.
Top-ranked Memphis and No. 2 Tennessee both won Wednesday night, setting up a showdown between the teams Saturday. It will be the first 1-2 meeting since No. 2 Ohio State beat No. 1 Wisconsin 49-48 last Feb. 25.
"It's step up time now," said Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl, who refused to talk about the game earlier in the week, instead insisting the Auburn Tigers were the more important Tigers.
"Everybody's going to be challenged."
The Vols (24-2, 11-1 Southeastern Conference) easily dispatched Auburn (13-11, 3-8) on Wednesday night, winning 89-70.
Saturday's matchup will be just the fifth time that a 1-2 meeting will be with teams from the same state. Cincinnati and Ohio State locked up twice in the 1960s and Duke and North Carolina met twice in the 1990s.
"We've got a good one ahead of us," said Chris Douglas-Roberts, who had 29 points in Memphis' 97-71 win over Tulane. "We're evenly matched, it's going to be a good one."
Last year, Memphis lost to Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., 76-58. This year the game will be on the Tigers' home court.
"We're playing the most talented team we've ever played in our building," said Memphis coach John Calipari, who won his 400th game Wednesday night.
Ramar Smith scored a season-high 19 points, Tyler Smith added 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and JaJuan Smith and Chris Lofton both had 12 points for the Vols, who extended their home winning streak to 30 games.
Ramar Smith acknowledged that Auburn was an important stepping stone before facing Memphis.
"We have to get better every game and that's what we did tonight," he said.
The Tigers outrebounded the Vols 23-20 in the first half, but couldn't find a way to take advantage of it with 22-percent shooting from the field.
Frank Tolbert led Auburn with 24 points and tied a career high with 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.
Memphis (26-0, 12-0 Conference USA) had already shaken off one scare, a one-point victory over UAB, and did not want another. And Tulane (15-10, 5-6) did not threaten the Tigers much.
Memphis was ahead 46-27 at halftime, and never allowed the Greenies to get closer than 17 after that. Johnny Mayhane's 3-pointer with 13:01 left in the game cut Memphis' lead to 60-43, but the Tigers quickly rebuilt it. Miami 96, No. 5 Duke 95