March 11, 2006
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Memphis believes it's earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Now it's up to the selection committee to decide.
"We have done everything we could do," said coach John Calipari, after the fifth-ranked Tigers beat No. 24 UAB 57-46 Saturday to win the Conference USA tournament.
"When we coach against another team, we're trying to make it as hard as we can on them to beat us," Calipari said. "On this committee, we're trying to (make it) as hard as we can for them not to give us (the No. 1 seed). They may not, but we made it very difficult for them by winning the game."
The Tigers (30-3) were also the league's regular-season champs, with only one conference loss - to UAB on March 2 in Birmingham.
Joey Dorsey had 10 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks for Memphis and led a Tigers defense that shut down the Blazers (24-6) inside and held them to 27 percent shooting.
"Our defense was phenomenal," Calipari said. "Joey Dorsey was an absolute monster, and we need him to be a monster."
Tournament MVP Shawne Williams had 18 points to lead Memphis, which became the second team in conference history to win 30 games in a season. Cincinnati, which just completed its first season in the Big East, had 31 victories in 2001-02.
"I'm tired. I'm exhausted," Williams said. "I thought Joey (Dorsey) deserved the MVP ... He was just a rebounding bully."
Paul Delaney led UAB with 14 points.
"Everyone thought they were just going to hand the trophy to Memphis, but that didn't happen," Blazers coach Mike Anderson said. "I think we could be a dangerous team, and I still like our basketball team."
The Tigers led from the start, jumping out to a 7-0 advantage. Memphis went on a 13-2 run to take a 17-point lead, their largest of the game, with about 8 1/2 minutes to play. A tip-in by Rodney Carney made the score 49-32.
Carney, the Tigers' leading scorer and the conference player of the year, managed only eight points, missing 11-of-14 shots, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range.
Last year, Washington missed two of three free throws with no time left in a 75-74 loss to Louisville in the title game. Washington crumpled to the floor at the end of that game, but left the court with a smile this time.
While the Tigers shot only 33 percent, they were successful early from 3-point range, taking a 32-22 lead at the half.
The Blazers missed their first 12 shots and failed to get a field goal until seven minutes into the game when Wen Mukubu scored on a layup.
"You have to shoot the basketball and we did not shoot the ball well," he said. "I think Memphis wanted the game a little more."
Memphis hit six of its first 11 tries from 3-point range. Williams, who had 13 points for the first half, was 3-of-5 from behind the arc, while Antonio Anderson hit on both of his 3-point attempts.