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Mack leads as Memphis outclasses Rice

Jan 22, 2009 - 5:38 AM MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Doneal Mack scored 14 points as No. 24 Memphis cruised to its ninth straight win with an 80-52 pasting of Rice.

Robert Dozier added 13 points and nine rebounds for Memphis (15-3, 5-0 C-USA), which has won 47 straight games against Conference USA opponents.

The Tigers never trailed, jumping out to an 11-2 lead and running to a 47-28 advantage at the break. Mack led the first-half charge, knocking down 4-of-6 attempts from beyond the arc for 12 points.

"He has gotten better," Memphis coach John Calipari said of Mack. "Doneal Mack is not hurting us, where in the past he would. There were times we would put him in and he would hurt us. He doesn't make every shot, but he comes up with some balls. He is defending better. He is playing scrappier and he is maturing."

Memphis never allowed the Owls to get into an offensive rhythm in the first half, holding them to 8-of-23 (35 percent) shooting and dominating the boards, 17-10.

"Well we talked about this, we talked so much about our ability to be able to handle pressure early in the game," Rice coach Ben Braun said. "I think that was something that we got off to a poor start with. Memphis built up a lead and when you climb in to a hole like we did, it makes it really difficult against really good teams."

Things did not get any better in the second for Rice (6-12, 1-3), which made just two field goals in the first 11:23. Meanwhile, Memphis was picking up right where it left off, building the lead to 61-36 on freshman Wesley Witherspoon's jumper with 10:04 remaining.

Dozier gave the Tigers their biggest lead in the contest when he capped a 9-1 run with a jumper to push it to 70-39 with 5:48 left.

"You can never simulate that in a practice," Braun said of Memphis' pressure. "If you look at our turnovers, most of them came early in the game. We really cut them down in the second half. As a result, I thought that we stepped up.

"The other area that I think we really need to work harder is rebounding and giving up inside scores."

Shawn Taggert finished with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting and Roburt Sallie and Witherspoon finished with eight points apiece off the bench for Memphis.

Freshman guard Conner Frizzelle was the lone bright spot for the Owls, coming off the bench to score a game-high 16 points and grab nine rebounds. Rodney Foster added 13 for Rice, which has lost five of six.