Memphis Making Noise in NCAA Tournament Again
March 26, 2009
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - After getting an earful from coach John Calipari in a lackluster opening-round win over Cal State Northridge, Memphis kept its normally outspoken coach quiet by dismantling Maryland on Saturday to reach the NCAA's round of 16 for the fourth consecutive year.
"It's scary when coach isn't yelling at us so much," guard Antonio Anderson said.
Confident and suddenly hitting shots from long range, last year's national runner-up is making another run and keeping its coach's lips zipped.
Memphis heard plenty from Calipari against Northridge. The Tigers were flat and played "cocky," as their coach put it, and he let them have it at halftime. Roburt Sallie kept Memphis close with a barrage of 3-pointers, and the Tigers pulled away down the stretch for a harder-than-expected nine-point win.
After avoiding the upset, the second-seeded Tigers never gave Maryland a chance.
Memphis forced just seven turnovers but overwhelmed the Terps with an offensive onslaught. Picking apart Maryland's press with ease, Memphis jumped out to a 17-4 lead to start the game and didn't let up until late, overwhelming the Terps in a 19-point win that easily could have been 30.
Now, Memphis is headed to the West Regional semifinals in Glendale, Ariz., to face Missouri. At 33-3 and with a nation-leading 27-game winning streak, the Tigers are serious title contenders - even after losing three starters to the NBA from last year's team.
"This team is talented, deep and skilled enough," Calipari said. "For us, free-throw shooting and 3-point shooting are the deciding factors."
So far, the 3-point shots are going in.
Normally a dribble-drive team, Memphis hit just 32 percent from beyond the arc during the regular season. In the two games in Kansas City, the Tigers hit 21-of-47 from beyond the arc, including 10-for-19 against Maryland.
Sallie has been a big boost. A 4.5-point scorer during the regular season, he has suddenly given the Tigers yet another weapon.
The sophomore guard surprised nearly everyone against Northridge, setting an NCAA opening-round record with 10 3-pointers and a school-tournament-record 35 points. He added three more 3s against Maryland, scoring 13 points, and is 13-for-19 from beyond the arc in the tournament.
"We're a tough team to beat," guard Doneal Mack said. "We're not known as a 3-point shooting team, but when we're shooting the ball like that and playing tough defense, it's hard to get beat."
And for Calipari to find anything to complain about.