UAB's Wen Mukubu dunks over Rodney Carney of Memphis during the first half of a college basketball game, Thursday March 2, 2006 in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)
March 3, 2006
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - The points just stopped coming for No. 3 Memphis - and so did the wins.
Marvett McDonald had 17 points and UAB held the Tigers scoreless for more than eight minutes down the stretch in an 80-74 upset on Thursday night, sending another top-five team tumbling.
McDonald's jumper gave the Blazers (21-5, 12-2 Conference USA) a five-point lead with 2:47 to go, and UAB made six consecutive free throws in the final 33 seconds to snap the Tigers' 15-game winning streak.
"Everything is magnified in March," UAB coach Mike Anderson said. "You want to get momentum and I think we played some of our best defensive basketball, especially against a very talented Memphis team."
UAB fans poured onto the court to celebrate a win that certainly bolstered the team's NCAA tournament hopes, and Wen Mukubu jumped on the scorer's table pumping his fists.
With that late offensive funk, Memphis (26-3, 12-1) missed a chance to wrap up the league title outright and strengthen its hopes for a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed. The chance was there, with No. 1 Duke falling to unranked Florida State on Wednesday night and No. 4 Villanova losing to second-ranked Connecticut on Saturday.
Memphis hadn't lost since Jan. 2, but coach John Calipari saw this one coming.
"We've been slipping for about 10 days," said Calipari, whose team has already clinched the league tournament's No. 1 seed. "When it gets rough, we're not as coachable as we need to be. They beat us to every loose ball down the stretch."
The league's highest-scoring team went into a horrible drought late in the game, going 8:05 without a point before Shawne Williams' 3-pointer with 40 seconds left cut the deficit to 74-71. The Tigers missed six straight shots and had six turnovers during that stretch of offensive futility.
Williams and Antonio Anderson both hit 3-pointers in the final minute, but UAB iced it at the line.
Delaney hit two free throws with 33 seconds left and Squeaky Johnson forced Williams into a turnover at the other end.
Coming off a career-high 39 points against SMU, McDonald then hit four in a row to put the game away.
Frank Holmes had 15 points, Mukubu 12 and Delaney and Johnson 10 for the Blazers.
Darius Washington led Memphis with 17 points while Rodney Carney had 16. Joey Dorsey finished with 11 points and 16 rebounds.
Memphis too often settled for 3-pointers, and made just 8-of-27 from beyond the arc.3-pointers, nullifying a size advantage inside.
"Anytime we take that many 3s, we're not winning," Calipari said.
The Tigers held a 68-67 lead for more than four minutes late in the game, as both teams traded missed shots and turnovers.
Then the Blazers scored six consecutive points to take a 73-68 lead on McDonald's basket with 2:47 left, and held on.
"Nobody on this team thought we were going to lose this game," Mukubu said. "Everyone on our team in our hearts felt that we had a chance to beat them.
"We came out and showed the nation we can play with the best."
The Tigers led by as many as 10 points in the first half before the Blazers rode a defensive adjustment to a 23-7 closing run for a 46-40 lead.
"We were up 10 and they went to the zone and we didn't respond well," Calipari said. "They are very active but you've got to drive the ball in there and we didn't do that."