for this game

Mack, big first half lead to another easy win for Memphis

Mar 9, 2007 - 6:01 AM MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Similar to the regular season, Doneal Mack and Memphis was not challenged by a league opponent.

A freshman reserve, Mack scored 16 of his season-high 19 points in the first half as the fifth-ranked Tigers rolled out to a big lead en route to a 92-71 victory over Marshall in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA Tournament.

Posting its ninth win over a league foe by 17 or more points, the top-seeded Tigers (28-3) advanced to face Tulane in the semifinals on Friday.

After going undefeated in conference play, Memphis shot 50 percent (32-of-64) in extending the nation's longest winning streak to 20 games.

Hardly being threatened in the regular season, the long list of easy wins may turn out to be a detriment for the Tigers in the NCAA Tournament when every possession in heightened.

Coach John Calipari disagrees with that thinking.

"This was a test. This team didn't go away," he said. "If they don't turn the ball over in the first half like they did, this is a three- or four-possession game.

"Our team doesn't care (about what critics say). We just want to go out and do what we do and move on. I'm not worried. This team is more connected than any team I've ever coached. ... These guys know the motor has to speed up now. They know what time of year it is."

Memphis, which defeated Marshall for the fourth straight time, took control of the contest midway through in the first half with a 24-2 to take a 46-21 advantage with 4:04 remaining.

The Tigers' run was helped by 17 first-half turnovers by the Thundering Herd, who finished with 22 giveaways.

"I really liked our first half, our energy and our extra passing," Calipari said. "We only had four turnovers. There was no sloppiness."

"They forced us into turnovers early," Marshall coach Ron Jirsa said. "The points off turnovers were the big key. They're just a super team, and they're going to go a long way."

Mack hit three straight 3-pointers during the burst and finished with a season high-tying 5-of-7 from the arc.

It was the second time this season that Mack connected on five 3-pointers, and he is shooting 64 percent (18-of-28) from the arc in his last nine games.

"In the beginning of the season, I wasn't really trying to hear Coach, and since I've been listening to him he's been right," Mack said. "If I go after loose balls and am aggressive my shot comes along. That's been a big factor."

Jeremy Hunt, who added eight points during the impressive spurt, also had 19 points and Joey Dorsey added 14 and 11 rebounds for the Tigers, who shot 41 percent (9-of-22) on 3-pointers and had 22 assists.

Leading scorer Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 11 points and Robert Dozier added 10 and seven boards for Memphis, which held a 35-29 advantage on the boards, grabbing 17 offensive rebounds.

Memphis grabbed its largest lead of the game at 52-24 on a follow shot by Dorsey with 1:40 remaining in the first half.

The Thundering Herd (12-19), who absorbed a 78-59 loss here in the lone regular-season meeting on December 4, did play better in the second half, committing just five turnovers and reaching the free-throw line 13 times, making 10.

However, Marshall got no closer than 13 points after the break.

Mark Dorris scored 21 points for Marshall, which ended the season with six losses in its last nine games.

    --- --- -----
    MARSHALL 31 40 71
    MEMPHIS (5) 52 40 92 FINAL

    Mar 8 9:08 PM


    Mar 8 7:55 PM