Unlike a night earlier in which they were involved in a close game throughout the first half and beyond, Memphis (30-3) opened the game up with an 11-4 run, en route to a 30-10 advantage with just six minutes remaining. Memphis used a balanced attack in the first half as Doneal Mack, Wesley Witherspoon, Robert Dozier, and Shawn Taggert each scored six or more points.
"We just had a lot of people being aggressive and being physical out there, taking the charge and doing what we can," Memphis senior forward Robert Dozier said.
Houston (22-11) tried to stay close with the shooting of Aubrey Coleman, who led the team with 10 points in the first half. Still, Houston showed no inside presence and had trouble with the high intensity, high pressure defense of Memphis, as they trailed 34-22 at halftime.
Memphis opened up the second half on a 24-0 run, and didn't allow a field goal for the first10+ minutes to Houston. The Cougars finally scored when Memphis emptied the bench midway through the second half. The Tigers immediately and forcefully took control of this game and Houston couldn't even get a good look at the basket offensively.
"We're aware of it because we aren't taking the ball out of bounds," senior forward Robert Dozier said when asked about the defensive run. "It's just the pride that we take in playing defense. Coach tells us if we're going to win games it comes with defense first and that's how we like to play. We strive off shutting guys down and not letting guyhs dunk the ball and get easy lay-ups."
Robert Dozier led a balanced scoring attack with 16 points as he connected on nine of his ten free throw attempts and he also grabbed seven rebounds. Shawn Taggert continued his fine play of late as he scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Antonio Anderson was a factor as he played great defense and added eight points and grabbed nine boards.
Coach John Calipari spoke about the play of his center, Shawn Taggert.
"It takes pressure off Robert (Dozier), so he can go do what he does. But it's also that we can go into the middle of a zone; we can throw it in to the post and then we become multi-dimensional."
After scoring 10 points in the first half, Houston guard Aubrey Coleman finished with just 14 points as he shot 6-18 from the field. He and Kelvin Lewis, who scored 18 points were the only Cougars in double figures.
Memphis will take on the winner of Tulsa-UAB in the C-USA championship game tomorrow.
Tigers Beat Up Cougars
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