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March 8, 2008
No. 2 Memphis caps off perfect C-USA season
Dorsey had 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead No. 2 Memphis to a 94-56 victory over UAB on Saturday that capped a second straight perfect Conference USA season for the Tigers.
"It ought to be Senior Night every night for Joey," Memphis swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts said, marveling at the resurrection of the forward's play.
It was the fourth straight win for the Tigers (30-1, 16-0) and their most dominant performance since dropping their only game of the season to Tennessee two weeks ago.
Dorsey, who had been in one of the multigame slumps that have plagued him at times during his career, was the key factor.
"I came into this game and I was hoping the slump was over, and I can play like this the rest of the year," Dorsey said, later adding: "The last couple of games, I've been so frustrated just to see what's going on with me. It takes hard work, playing harder than everybody on the court."
By midway through the second half, the Tigers were leading by 36 points and having fun, giving Dorsey and reserve guard Andre Allen an enjoyable sendoff party. The Tigers were throwing passes off the backboard for assists, and Allen was going one-on-one for drives and 3-pointers.
"We had no answer for them," Blazers coach Mike Davis said. "We just wanted to get the game over with. That didn't happen either because it felt like it took all day for it to get over."
Lawrence Kinnard led UAB (22-9, 12-4) with 16 points, while Robert Vaden had 13, nine under his average. Vaden was 5-of-17 from the field and many of his points came after Antonio Anderson, who had guarded the Blazers' leading scorer, left the game early in the second half with a sprained right ankle.
The win was Memphis' 39th straight in C-USA play, and the Tigers enter next week's conference tournament as the top seed as well as its host. It also was a bit of a statement game for the Tigers, who had to rally in the final 1:23 to beat the Blazers 79-78 on Feb. 16 and preserve their No. 1 ranking at the time.
"We wanted to tell them this was not going to be a game like Birmingham," Tigers freshman guard Derrick Rose said. "When you hit a team like that, it kind of takes down their confidence a little bit."
UAB, which was the last team to beat Memphis in a conference game, never had a chance to repeat either that performances or the last game between the teams as the Tigers scored the game's first 10 points and built the lead to as many as 32 early in the second half. Memphis eventually would lead by as many as 43.
The Blazers ended the day with 23 turnovers, 18 in the first half, and shot 34 percent.
"That's what a deep team will do. The biggest thing is we just guarded," Memphis coach John Calipari said.
Allen and Doneal Mack scored 11 points each for Memphis, while Anderson finished with 10, all in the first half. Rose had 11 assists.
With just under 4 minutes left, the crowd was on its feet chanting "Joey, Joey, Joey" for the 6-foot-9 forward from Baltimore. Dorsey waved to the crowd and hugged Calipari as he left the court with the chants continuing until after he took a seat on the bench.
"We came in today, and I said: 'I'm not losing on Senior Night. I'm going to come out with so much energy, and you all just follow me,"' Dorsey said.
Allen was next to leave and received a similar standing ovation. Allen could return next season because he has one year of eligibility left, but was recognized as a senior on Saturday.
Davis said his team, which already had clinched the second seed, played with no energy, almost as if they were only wanting to get the regular season over and move to the tournament.
"It was like this game didn't even matter, and that was the way we played," Davis said. "It was Senior Night for Memphis, and it was a stop before (the C-USA tournament for UAB).
"... We could have gotten beat by 40 by anybody. We just weren't ready to play."
And Dorsey was the reason both for the dominance by Memphis, and how his teammates played. Several said they wanted Dorsey to go out with a stellar performance and build his confidence for the postseason.
"We did it because of Joey," Douglas-Roberts said. "I hope he gets the picture now. He makes himself look so good, and he makes us look so good. I don't understand why he wouldn't want to look good out there all the time."