Nobody has done what Missouri did to the Memphis Tigers in recent memory, nobody. Mizzou used a key stretch in the first half to pull away from Memphis and then hang on to a 102-91 victory at University of Phoenix Stadium to advance to the Elite Eight on Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers attacked the hole relentlessly, but this time it wasn't Memphis. It was Missouri beating the other Tigers at their own game.
Before the game, Calipari said to Mike Anderson, "Let's have some fun," and Missouri took it to heart.
"No one has done this to us. We lost Elite Eight games but we were like right -- it was a four-point game, two-point game," said Memphis Head Coach John Calipari, "They broke us down defensively like we break people down. Like I said, they beat us at our own game."
From early on it was Missouri (31-6) that wanted to play on more and it started with the play of J.T. Tiller who scored a career-high 16 points in just the first half and finished with 23.
"What a game to have it, your career high," said Missouri Head Coach Mike Anderson, "His energy was just contagious. I thought he was like a pit bull in a china shop out there. He was going everywhere, just bowling down everybody. He was wherever the ball was."
Right from the start Mizzou set the tone and cause Calipari to call a timeout just over a minute into the game. Zaire Taylor got a put-back and then a transition three by Matt Lawrence had the Tigers out to an early 5-0 lead.
Robert Sallie's three with 7:54 to play in the first half gave Memphis (33-4) a 28-26 lead, but that would be the last time that Missouri would trail.
Matt Lawrence's three from the corner ignited an 11-1 Missouri run that gave the Tigers control of the game. In all, Missouri closed the first half on a 23-8 run, which was capped by a banked shot and a full court shot by Marcus Denmon.
"It is funny because Coach had us practicing that the whole tournament," said Missouri guard Zaire Taylor, "Every day at the end of practice we get two shots each. I like to believe it paid off."
"I think the first shot -- when he made that first shot, he banked it in," laughed Anderson, "I thought, oh, man, wow, this might be the night for us. And then when he comes and makes a second one, I say we ought to call the game right then and there smiling. But unfortunately we couldn't do that."
Missouri used the momentum gained by Denmon and started the second half with a 6-2 run and then later used a 7-0 run to go up 24.
"I thought we came out in the second half riding that momentum. We had some energy and played awful well," said Anderson, "I thought our defense was good and people may look at the score and not think that."
"But I thought our defense was really good. It was disruptive. There is a lot of ways you can disrupt a team. It is not necessarily about taking the basketball."
"I don't think we lost our composure," said Memphis forward Robert Dozier, "I thought -- well, maybe on the defensive end a little bit. I think we weren't talking. And on the offensive end, we weren't finishing the plays we needed to finish. I think that was the biggest thing."
However, Memphis wouldn't let their 27 game win streak and the storied careers of Robert Dozier and Antonio Anderson end without a fight.
They used a five point possession to ignite a 15-3 run to cut the lead down to single digits with 6:20 to play. Missouri took the run in stride and fought it off with continuing to get J.T. Tiller to the basket and getting clutch free throw shooting from Leo Lyons and Kim English.
"You had a big lead, a cushion against a great team like Memphis, they are going to make a run at you. You know that," said Anderson, "I thought our guys got a little hesitant playing not to lose and made some little chippies. You go to the free-throw line and you don't make free throws, eventually that momentum is going to shift."
"I saw calmness with our basketball team that was very prevalent going down the stretch. We knocked free throws. We made stops when we had to. Different guys coming off the bench. Really played well for us."
Matt Lawrence was just hoping to watch the time tick off of the clock, but it didn't go as fast as he would have liked.
"It seemed like an eternity," smiled Lawrence, "There was kind of a free throw battle at the end. We were missing a couple and they were too. We had what we needed to at the end, that clock ran out and we had more points."
Memphis had only allowed one team all season to shoot over 50% against them on the season, that was their very first game of the season against Fairfield. Missouri shot 56% on Thursday and scored 102 points, the previous high on Memphis was 79.
"I was just so disappointed in our first half," said Calipari, "Lyons and Carroll just went right at us. We're a team that we lead the nation in field goal percentage defense. They shot 56 percent."
Some call Memphis the best defensive team in the country, but there was no evidence of that in Glendale. Aside from the most points, Missouri got to the line more times than any other team against Memphis.
"Tried everything," said Calipari of his defensive strategy on the Tigers, "I was trying different combinations, zone, anything I thought we could get the tide going our way."
Tyreke Evans scored a career high 33 points in a losing cause for Memphis. Robert Dozier added 19 points and 16 rebounds in his final game as a Tiger.
Balance was the story for Missouri, as all five starters were in double figures. J.T. Tiller led the way with 23, while DeMarre Carroll added 17. Leo Lyons added a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, attempting 18 free throws.
The game ended with DeMarre Carroll dribbling out the basketball and throwing it up in the air in jubilation as the final horn sounded, sending Missouri to their first berth in the Elite Eight.
"It was a good game, great Memphis team," said Carroll, "Great Memphis team. But I don't think we are stopping there yet. We got Connecticut. We are going to enjoy until midnight like Coach said and get ready for UConn because that could be our next biggest victory."