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Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Memphis eager to quiet naysayers

March 21, 2007

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— A 24-game winning streak hasn't convinced everyone that Memphis is a legitimate national championship contender.

After all, the second-seeded Tigers didn't get much of challenge from their Conference USA rivals, none of which made the NCAA Tournament. Counting North Texas and Nevada, the two teams Memphis beat to get to the South Regional semifinals, the Tigers have defeated five teams that made the NCAA's field of 65.

It's safe to say that Thursday's game in San Antonio against Texas A&M will be the Tigers' toughest test in months.

And they could be without leading scorer Chris Douglas-Roberts, who is nursing a sprained left ankle. Coach John Calipari said he wasn't positive Douglas-Roberts would play.

"But I think he will," Calipari said after his weekly radio show Monday before a packed house of Tiger fans at a Memphis restaurant.

Decked out in Tiger blue T-shirts and caps, the fans treated Calipari to a standing ovation as he arrived for the show held in a strip of taverns and restaurants just off the university campus.

Memphis (32-3) is powered by its pressure defense and transition offense. Depth is also a strength. The Tigers have nine players who average at least 10 minutes per game and seven who are over 20. Douglas-Roberts averages 15.4 points per game, but Jeremy Hunt (13.6), Robert Dozier (9.8), Joey Dorsey (8.7) and Antonio Anderson (8.0) can all contribute offensively.

The Tigers ran roughshod over C-USA teams such as East Carolina, Marshall and Rice, on their way to regular season and conference tournament championships.

"They did what they were supposed to do, as far as playing against mediocre talent," said Memphis fan David Harp, one of the faithful out to salute Calipari. "They won big."

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