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Anderson, Memphis continue mastery of Conference USA

Jan 29, 2009 - 4:02 AM GREENVILLE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Memphis continued its dominance of Conference USA on Wednesday.

Antonio Anderson scored a season-high 26 points and handed out eight assists as the 19th-ranked Tigers cruised to their 48th consecutive win in league play, an 85-64 victory over East Carolina.

"Antonio did what he does," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "He had 26 points, eight assists, two turnovers. He was pretty good."

"We just clicked," Anderson said. "We knew they don't have much size, so we just attacked as much as we could."

Freshman Tyreke Evans finished with 18 points and Robert Dozier added 11 and three blocks for Memphis (17-3, 6-0 C-USA), which has won 11 straight contests overall.

"I've got to give (ECU) credit," Calipari said. "They tried to stay in it. They made a couple runs in the second half and I had to burn a timeout. I'm just happy we get out of here with a victory."

Jamar Abrams collected 18 points and eight rebounds and Sam Hinnant had 17 for the Pirates (10-9, 2-4), who have lost eight of their last 10 games.

"Jamar has great ability," ECU coach Mack McCarthy said. "As he comes to understand the game at the speed it is played, he really has a tremendous upside. He can contribute more on the floor than he's doing right now. He's a great kid and he works really hard."

The Tigers have not lost to a Conference USA opponent since March 2, 2006, building the longest winning streak within league play in the conference's history.

This contest was never in doubt. Memphis jumped out to a 17-5 lead in the first four minutes and cruised to a wire-to-wire victory.

"We turned the ball over 10 times in the first half and that kept us in a hole," McCarthy said. "But we were rebounding with them and getting to the free-throw line, we just weren't making them."

Memphis played an efficient game, shooting 55 percent (34-of-62) from the field and committing just six turnovers. The Tigers also dominated inside, outscoring ECU in the paint by a 44-18 margin.

The Pirates, who were outrebounded by a 37-29 margin, shot 44 percent (22-of-50) and went just 9-of-22 from the free-throw line.

"We cut it to single digits, but the big thing at the end of the night - it was rebounding and turnovers that hurt us badly," Hinnant said.

Anderson had 15 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the first half as the Tigers took a 45-31 advantage into the break.

East Carolina threatened to get back into the game when Hinnant sank a pair of 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to cut the deficit to 47-39 early in the second half. But the Pirates could not manage to get any closer.

"My confidence is getting a lot higher now. I got down on myself a little bit," Hinnant said. "But now, I'm just trying to look to score and doing that the best I can."