Rose leads Memphis past Southern MissMar 15, 2008 - 5:20 AM MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Freshman Derrick Rose helped put No. 3 Memphis on the cusp of another conference championship.
Rose scored 25 points as the top-seeded Tigers posted a 69-53 victory over fifth seed Southern Mississippi in the semifinals of the Conference USA tournament on Friday.
Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 14 points and Robert Dozier added six and 11 rebounds for Memphis (32-1), which will face Tulsa in Saturday's championship game.
The Golden Hurricanes advanced with a 64-62 overtime victory over UTEP on Friday evening.
The Tigers, who have won 31 straight conference games at the FedEx Forum, have also been victorious in 41 consecutive league games - including eight in the conference tournament. Memphis will be playing for its third straight tourney title since losing to Louisville in the 2005 championship game.
"We made some big shots and some threes and made some plays, so it was a good game for us," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "We had a couple guys that didn't play particularly well that we will see if we can get going for tomorrow."
The Conference USA Coach of the Year was talking most notably about senior center Joey Dorsey, who had no points and just two rebounds in 20 minutes of action.
Rose, who was named C-USA Freshman of the Year on Tuesday, scored nine of his total in the first 7:35 of the contest as the Tigers shot out to a commanding 20-3 advantage.
However, the Golden Eagles recovered and cut their deficit to 29-23 on a layup by Sai'Quon Stone with 1:56 before intermission.
"Sai'Quon was terrific," Southern Miss coach Larry Eustachy said. "He really competed and battled; they all did. We're not afraid of Memphis, we just got away from who we are. We're not afraid of anyone."
Andre Allen score his only points for Memphis on a 3-pointer with 29 seconds left in the half to give the Tigers a 32-23 advantage at the break.
A 6-3 freshman from Chicago, Rose drilled three of his four 3-pointers in the second half, including his third with 4:14 remaining to give the Tigers a 63-47 lead.
"Derrick made threes that stretched out the game," Calipari said. "So, instead of it being nine or 11, it was 15 or 16, which is how it ended. At the end of the day, in these kinds of games, it is players making plays."
Rose connected on 9-of-14 shots from the floor and 4-of-7 from 3-point range for Memphis, which has won six straight since losing to Tennessee on February 23.
"I just had to stay focused and tried to make plays," Rose said. "That is why you are on the court."
The Tigers shot 42 percent (26-of-62) from the field while holding the Golden Eagles to just 33 percent (14-of-42).
Stone had 14 points and 10 rebounds and R.L. Horton and Jeremy Wise scored 12 each for Southern Miss (19-14), which defeated Central Florida in the quarterfinals on Thursday but which has dropped 10 in a row to Memphis since January 2004.
"A lot of people think that we would just be satisfied to be out here, but we wanted to come out here and win," Stone said. "I am real disappointed that we didn't."
- CONFERENCE USA TOURNAMENT
AT MEMPHIS TN
NCAA BB CONFERENCE USA TOURNAMENT
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
SOUTHERN MISS 23 30 53
MEMPHIS (3) 32 37 69 FINAL
Mar 14 6:34 PM
- CONFERENCE USA TOURNAMENT
AT MEMPHIS TN
NCAA BB SOUTHERN MISS 23
(3) MEMPHIS 32 HALFTIME
Mar 14 5:25 PM
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