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February 9, 2008

Memphis stays perfect with win over UCF

Box score

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Joey Dorsey had 12 points and 13 rebounds and top-ranked Memphis remained the nation's only undefeated team with an 85-64 win over Central Florida on Saturday.

Derrick Rose led the Tigers (23-0, 9-0 Conference USA) with 15 points, and Antonio Anderson scored 11 as Memphis extended the country's longest active home winning streak to 46 and continued their conference supremacy.

Willie Kemp, Robert Dozier and Rose hit consecutive 3-pointers as the Tigers scored 16 straight points over a six-minute run early in the second half, taking a 65-42 lead that was never challenged.

Mike O'Donnell led UCF (12-11, 5-4) with 15 points, and Jermaine Taylor added 13 points and five rebounds.

The Knights were trying to topple the highest ranked opponent in school history, in just their second crack against the nation's best. UCF lost 92-70 to current Memphis coach John Calipari's No. 1 Massachusetts team in 1996 in its only other game against the top-ranked team.

Dorsey closed the game with 1,080 career boards for Memphis, becoming the league's career rebounding leader. Former Tigers standout Kelly Wise previously held the conference mark at 1,075 career rebounds.

Memphis used a 17-6 run over a five minute stretch to take a 43-35 lead after the opening half.

The Tigers started off slow against another outmatched Conference USA opponent. Memphis only made two of its first 10 shots from the floor, in an up-and-down first half that saw 11 lead changes or ties.

Dave Noel 's free throws with 6:06 left in the first half put UCF ahead 27-26, its last lead of the game.

Dozier returned for Memphis after serving a one-game suspension with 11 points and six rebounds off the bench. A former girlfriend of Dozier filed a complaint with police last Sunday, saying he hit her in the face after they got out of their cars and argued at an intersection.

Calipari suspended Dozier for the incident. No charges have been filed.

The Tigers didn't need the starting forward too much against UCF. Memphis plowed through the Knights much like it has every other Conference USA opponent, and the trend isn't showing any signs of stopping.

It's been nearly two years since a league team has beaten the Tigers, who are 38-1 in the conference since Louisville and Cincinatti sprung for the Big East after the 2004-2005 season.

Memphis also has captured the past two conference tournament titles, and rolled through the league with a perfect 16-0 record last season, and appears on its way to repeating.

But the league shouldn't feel too bad.

Memphis went through the thick of its nonconference schedule - which included Georgetown, Arizona, Gonzaga, Southern California and Connecticut - with relative ease.

The Tigers are making a case to become the first team to finish the regular season unbeaten since the 1990-1991 UNLV team, which was later stunned by Duke in the Final Four. A home date with No. 7 Tennessee on Feb. 23 might be the only real challenge left in Memphis' bid for perfection.

For more coverage of Memphis, visit TigerSportsReport.com.

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