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February 20, 2008
NEW ORLEANS — It didn't take last-minute heroics Wednesday night, just full-time concentration.
"I was scared to death," Calipari said. "I had a pit in my stomach all day and I'm not worried about Saturday's game.
Memphis' win, coupled with second-ranked Tennessee's 89-70 victory against Auburn, sets up a showdown Saturday between the top two ranked teams in the country. It will be the first 1-2 meeting since No. 2 Ohio State beat No. 1 Wisconsin 49-48 on Feb. 25, 2007.
"That game has been played up to a level I can't even tell you," Calipari said.
That game, and the hype surrounding it is what sparked Calipari's concern. He was worried his players would be thinking Tennessee not Tulane. He didn't need to worry.
After remaining undefeated with a one-point victory over UAB, Memphis (26-0, 12-0 Conference USA), had no trouble against Tulane (15-10, 5-6).
Memphis was ahead 46-27 at halftime, and never allowed the Green Wave to get closer than 17 after that.
Johnny Mayhane's 3-pointer with 13:01 left in the game cut Memphis' lead to 60-43, but the Tigers quickly rebuilt their lead.
"We just got beaten by the best team in the country," Tulane coach Dave Dickerson said. "We have a long way to go to catch up to them."
The Tigers, who haven't lost a league game since March 2, 2006, ran up their impressive streaks - 45 straight regular-season wins, 35 consecutive C-USA victories and 17 straight road wins.
"We're not thinking of the streaks at all," Douglas-Roberts said. "Our motto is it's a one-game season."
But after beating Tulane, Douglas-Roberts was ready to look ahead to the Vols.
"We've got a good one ahead of us," he said. "We're evenly matched, it's going to be a good one."
Last year, Memphis lost to Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., 76-58. This year the game will be played in Memphis.
The Tigers outscored the Green Wave 54-26 in the paint.
As for his 400th victory, Calipari said it told him just one thing.
"It means I lasted a long time," I survived this crazy profession a number of years."
For more coverage of Memphis, visit TigerSportsReport.com.