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March 3, 2007

Memphis completes perfect C-USA season

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DALLAS -Chris Douglas-Roberts had 19 points with the key basket late and No. 6 Memphis won its 19th straight game to complete a perfect record in Conference USA with an unexpectedly difficult 64-61 victory at SMU on Saturday night.

The Tigers (27-3, 16-0 C-USA) overcame an early 11-point deficit to lead at halftime, but didn't go ahead for good until Douglas-Roberts hit a 3-pointer to make it 59-57 with 3:47 left.

Memphis became the first C-USA team to get through league play without a loss since Cincinnati was the first to do it in 1999-2000. Big South champion Winthrop, which clinched an automatic NCAA berth Saturday, is the only other team to get through conference play undefeated this season.

SMU (14-16, 3-13) lost for the eighth time in nine games, a stretch that began with a 36-point loss at Memphis on Feb. 3.

Jeremy Hunt missed the rim with a 3-point attempt with 1:02 left for Memphis, but Joey Dorsey grabbed the rebound and scored on a putback to make it 61-58. With 22 seconds left, Hunt made the second of his free throws for a 62-58 lead.

Devon Pearson then made a 3-pointer for SMU, falling down and under the feet of coach Matt Doherty as the shot went through the hoop.

Douglas-Roberts was fouled in the backcourt and missed two free throws with 13.6 seconds left. But he got the long rebound on the second miss and was fouled again, hitting the next two shots.

Ike Ofoegbu's 3-point attempt at the buzzer came up short for SMU, which hasn't beaten a ranked team at home since 1993.

Ofoegbu had 21 points while Pearson had 16 points and nine rebounds. Donatas Rackauskas, one of a trio of seniors playing their last home game, had 14 points before he fouled out with 11 minutes left.

Dorsey had 13 points and seven rebounds for Memphis. Hunt had 11 points despite making 3 of 14 shots.

Douglas-Roberts made a 3-pointer for Memphis on the opening possession before SMU scored 14 straight points.

Pearson and Rackauskas had consecutive putbacks to start the run before Ofoegbu hit a 3-pointer for a 9-3 lead and Memphis coach John Calipari called timeout less than 2 1/2 minutes into the game. That didn't slow down the Mustangs.

Ofoegbu had a tip-in and Pearson made a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 14-3. Another 3-pointer by Pearson pushed SMU ahead 19-7, its largest lead in the game.

Pearson had a breakaway layup on a pass from Dez Willingham with 10:17 left in the first half on what almost was a backcourt turnover. But that was the last SMU basket until Ofoegbu's putback in the final second, as the Mustangs missed 10 consecutive field goals and had five turnovers.

Memphis forced five-second violations on consecutive possessions before Willingham stepped out of bounds trying to get around a defender.

Willingham's miscue came after Hunt made two free throws to get Memphis within a point. The Tigers finally went ahead when Douglas-Roberts made a leaning layup in traffic from under the basket with 4:25 left - and they still led by a point at halftime.

For more coverage of Memphis, visit TigerSportsReport.com; for more on SMU, visit MustangManiacs.com.



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