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Memphis needs strong second half to down Southern Miss

Feb 15, 2009 - 4:55 AM HATTIESBURG, Mississippi (Ticker) -- After a lackluster opening 20 minutes, Memphis turned up the heat in the second half and the result was all to familiar.

Tyreke Evans led five players in double figures with 19 points and 10th-ranked Memphis used a dominant second half to down Southern Miss, 72-47, on Saturday to stay unbeaten in Conference USA.

The Tigers (22-3, 10-0 C-USA) led by just three at halftime, 31-28, before blitzing the Golden Eagles after the break. Trailing 32-31 early in the second half, the freshman Evans scored nine straight points during a 24-7 spurt as Memphis took control.

"This team is developing their own identity and it's totally different than the identity of last year's team, but they're taking it on and now we've just got to get guys better," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "We've got to get everybody a little bit better and a little more consistent. If we do that, it starts getting scary."

The win was the 52nd straight within the conference for the Tigers, who also extended their overall winning streak to 16 games.

Robert Dozier and Antonio Anderson each added 12 points and Roburt Sallie scored 11 off the bench for the Tigers, who held Southern Miss to just 19 second-half points.

"We knew how they were going to try to play - push you around a little bit and beat you up, but guys were ready for battle and it showed," Anderson said. "It wasn't easy, but we just took them out of their stuff. We were very prepared for what they run, and we shut them down in the second half and limited their second-half shots."

The Golden Eagles (13-11, 3-7) hung around in the first half despite a slow start. Memphis scored 11 straight points to open an 11-2 lead early on, but Southern Miss responded to tie the game at 15-15.

Jeremy Wise scored eight of Southern Miss' final 10 points in the first half for the Golden Eagles, who dropped their fifth straight game.

"They came out and played us tough and we expected that," said Dozier, who also grabbed six rebounds. "In the second half, we just kind of turned it up a notch defensively, pressuring them full court, forcing them to turn the ball over, and we executed on offense and made all our free throws. That made the game a lot easier."

Wise finished with 15 points and six assists.

A pair of jumpers by Courtney Beasley put Southern Miss ahead by one before Evans took over. A free throw by Dozier tied the game and Evans sank a pair of 3-pointers during the run as the Tigers pulled away.