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Memphis rolls to 20th straight home win

Dec 23, 2006 - 10:28 PM MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Memphis has had some question marks on the road. But it has been all exclamation points at home.

Freshman Willie Kemp scored all 11 of his points in a big first half as 18th-ranked Memphis raced to its 20th straight home victory, an 86-46 rout of Middle Tennessee.

Doneal Mack scored 18 points and fellow reserve Jeremy Hunt added 16 for the Tigers (9-3), who never trailed and made 12 3-pointers. They were coming off Wednesday's loss at Arizona but responded with a vengeance at home, where they have been overwhelming this season.

"It was a nightmare," Middle Tennesee coach Kermit Davis said. "I give Memphis credit. When they make their shots from 3-point range like they did today, they may be the best team in college basketball."

Memphis improved to 7-0 at home, winning by an average of nearly 25 points. The Tigers fell a bucket shy of matching their biggest home win of the season.

"I have to just continue to get them to be excited who they are as individual players and to love themselves as individual players," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "Some of our guys are scared to death if they don't play great. ... Just be in love with yourself. Don't be embarrassed by you."

Kemp had no such problems as the point guard also had nine assists and six rebounds in a terrific all-around game. He jump-started Memphis to leads of 12-2 and 32-11 before the Tigers settled for a 51-28 halftime advantage.

"Willie Kemp, who is a real character guy, got their team going in a positive way," Davis said. "I was disappointed in our energy level and when we got down, we kind of got a defeated attitude."

Despite the absence of reserve guard Andre Allen (concussion) and just two points from starting forward Joey Dorsey, Memphis cruised thereafter, improving to 15-1 all-time against Middle Tennessee.

"I was really pleased with our effort," said Calipari, who came up one win short of the Final Four. "Every team you coach is different. ... When your team changes personnel, you have to figure out what they are."

Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 13 points and Robert Dozier added 11 for the Tigers, who shot 55 percent (31-of-56) from the field. Mack made four 3-pointers and Hunt and Douglas-Roberts added two apiece.

Desmond Yates scored 12 points for the Blue Raiders (4-7), who shot less than 33 percent (18-of-55) from the field and have lost three in a row.

Kemp had three 3-pointers in the first 3 1/2 minutes as the Tigers opened a 12-2 advantage. Consecutive baskets by Douglas-Roberts highlighted a 7-0 spurt that extended the margin to 32-11 with 7:43 left in the first half.

Memphis shot a blistering 62 percent (18-of-29) before the break, including 9-of-15 from the arc. Middle Tennessee had just one 3-pointer in the first half, then made just 6-of-29 shots overall after halftime.

    --- --- -----
    MIDDLE TENN 28 18 46
    MEMPHIS (18) 51 35 86 FINAL

    Dec 23 2:54 PM


    Dec 23 1:51 PM