Defense, Defense, Defense, by Memphis

The Memphis Tigers simply did what they do, which is play the very best defense in the nation en route to their fourth consecutive Conference USA title,. The Tigers defeated the second-seeded Tulsa Golden Hurricane, 64-39 to run their national best winning streak to 25 games, as well as their C-USA winning streak to 61 consecutive games.

"Well, the second half of that ball game, that's what we are," Memphis head coach John Calipari said. "And the disappointing thing in all of this is that Tulsa is an NCAA Tournament team. We are so good right now that it takes away from them. And, it's not fair, just not fair."

Memphis didn't allow a single point to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in nearly four minutes to begin the game and they allowed just nine points in the first 11 minutes, as they took control of the game early.

"We would have done this to anyone today, in any league," Calipari said.

Just when everyone thought a blowout was going to be the order of the day, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane came out swinging and went on an 11-4 run to cut the Memphis lead to just three points at 21-18. Memphis closed the half on a 7-2 mini-run to take a 28-20 lead at the break.

"I thought we had some chances early to score points, but their defense forces you to rush shots," Tulsa head coach Doug Woljcik said. "It's tough to score off the dribble against them because they extend everything and at least alter your shots."

Freshman guard Tyreke Evans led a balanced Memphis scoring attack in the first half as he scored nine points, and senior Antonio Anderson added eight. Sophomore guard Glenn Andrews scored eight points at the break to lead Tulsa.

Just as they did in their previous two games, Memphis came out strong after the break and opened on a 7-0 run to put a little distance between them and Tulsa, as they quickly took a 35-20 advantage. Tulsa stayed within 10-15 points for the next several minutes, but couldn't put a real dent in the Memphis advantage. The Tigers delivered the knockout blow as they went on a 9-0 run to inflate their lead to 22 points, thanks to a pair of dunks by Tyreke Evans and Robert Dozier, as well as a big three-point shot by Doneal Mack.

Robert Dozier scored nine straight points in the second half to help put the game on ice for the Tigers. Dozier finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds, and Tyreke Evans scored 18 points. Glenn Andrews led Tulsa with 13 points, but was a non-factor in the second half.

"We just wanted to come out aggressively on defense and turn it in to some offensive points," Memphis senior Robert Dozier said.

Memphis held Tulsa to just 26.3 % shooting, as they forced 12 Golden Hurricane turnovers, blocked 10 shots, and recorded eight steals. The 39 points scored by Tulsa was the fewest in the history of the C-USA tournament. Memphis shot 41.8% from the field, and did damage from the free throw line as they connected on 15 of 18 for 83.3 %.

"It's what they do to everybody," Wojcik said. "It's what they did to Gonzaga at Gonzaga. They extend everything. They're very difficult to score on, and we weren't able to throw it into the post to get anything. They're doubling Jerome (Jordan) every time. There are no secrets there- they do it to everybody."

The crowd of 14,058 saw their Memphis senior class run their record to 135-13. Robert Dozier and Antonio Anderson are part of the winning senior class in the history of college basketball.

"It is something a lot of guys just dream of," Dozier said of seeing his name in the rafters. "I never thought I would have the opportunity to do something like this along with Antonio (Anderson) and Chance (McGrady). It just shows the heart and dedication and the job that the coaches have done with us throughout the four years. I am very proud of it and I am just happy."

The all-tournament team consisted of Tulsa's Ray Reese and Glenn Andrews, and Memphis' Shawn Taggart, Robert Dozier, and tournament MVP, Tyreke Evans.

"It is great to go out and win conference," Tyreke Evans said. I haven't really won a championship since I was 12 and I won a national tournament."


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