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Rose leads Memphis to 38th consecutive league win

Mar 6, 2008 - 5:45 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- It ended up being the secondary push that got Memphis another win in Conference USA.

Freshman Derrick Rose scored 19 points as third-ranked Memphis extended its lengthy winning streak in league play with a 72-55 victory over SMU on Wednesday.

It was the 38th consecutive win in Conference USA for the Tigers (29-1, 15-0 C-USA), who have not lost in league play in more than two years.

"It was a fun game," SMU coach Matt Doherty said. "I thought a hard-fought game, but Memphis is just too darn good."

Memphis will close out the regular season with Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday.

Chris Douglas-Roberts had 18 points for the Tigers, who also wrapped up their first undefeated regular season on the road (10-0) since the 1960-61 campaign.

Although it clinched its third straight conference title on Saturday, Memphis came out without any sluggishness, taking a 16-9 lead after consecutive 3-pointers by Doneal Mack capped a 12-2 run.

Despite the run by the Tigers, the Mustangs hung tough, closing within 24-21 on a jumper by Derrick Roberts with 5:53 left in the first half.

"I thought that SMU did a great job of keeping the game interesting," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "They kept the game to where they had a chance."

Yet, SMU could not hold Memphis in check for long, as the Tigers ripped off a 14-5 run over the final 4 1/2 minutes of the first half for a 38-26 lead. Douglas-Roberts had six points and Rose scored five during the burst.

The tandem then combined to score their team's first 12 points of the second half, giving Memphis a 50-36 cushion with 15:12 to play.

Antonio Anderson added nine points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the Tigers, who turned 22 turnovers by the Mustangs into 25 points.

"It's been a problem all year; we don't handle the ball great," Doherty said. "We had 22 turnovers and they get 25 points. They get almost 20 more shots than we do and everything else is almost even. I just wish we could take care of the ball better."

After a stint of four straight games with a start, Joey Dorsey returned to his role as a reserve, scoring six points and grabbing eight rebounds in 24 minutes.

Jon Killen scored 16 points and Bamba Fall added 11 and eight rebounds for SMU (9-19, 3-12), which lost for the sixth time in seven games.

Due to the presence of Memphis, SMU had its largest crowd (7,421) since November 20, 2001.

"It was fun. As players, you don't get the opportunity to play against a top-five team all the time and this crowd here doesn't always get that opportunity, so I think everybody just tried to make the most of it and it was really fun for us," said Killen, one of three seniors for the Mustangs. "When we hit those big shots, to hear the crowd behind you, it really adds atmosphere and to your confidence."

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    MEMPHIS (3) 38 34 72
    SMU 26 29 55 FINAL

    Mar 5 10:00 PM

    (3) MEMPHIS 38

    Mar 5 8:55 PM