Memphis guard Darius Washington is doing everything possible to help the Tigers enjoy their highest ranking in 10 years.
Washington and the No. 3 Tigers will look to extend their winning streak to eight Saturday when they close out a short two-game homestand against Conference USA newcomer UCF.
Memphis (18-2, 4-0 Conference USA) enters the game with its highest ranking since reaching No. 3 in 1995-96.
Washington scored a season-high 26 points in a 73-66 win Thursday over UAB, the seventh consecutive win for the Tigers. Washington, who fell three points shy of his career high, also scored 26 against UAB as a freshman last season.
This time Washington, who is averaging 14.1 points, connected on 9-of-18 shots, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range. Teammate Rodney Carney added 19 for Memphis, which moved into a first-place tie with UTEP and dropped UAB one-half game behind the two.
“When you beat a team on a 10-game win streak, that’s a great win,” Memphis coach John Calipari said. “We had chances to get it to 16, 18, 20 and we’re just not capable of it yet.”
Memphis, which outrebounded UAB 54-34, controlled the boards the entire game, but struggled to widen its lead past six points.
“We were 13-for-36 from 2 feet. I’ll give it 2 1/2 feet,” Calipari said. “Whether it was because of a bump, a grab, a hold, we were 13-of-36. That’s the thing right now that’s holding us back a little bit.
“We had 25 offensive rebounds. You understand that means you’ve got the ball 2 feet from the rim. We just missed a ton of them.”
Shawne Williams finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds, sophomore forward Joey Dorsey added 12 points and 16 rebounds for the Tigers, who begin a three-game road trip—Tulsa, Rice and Marshall—after Saturday’s game.
The Tigers improved to 11-1 at home and their 18-2 record is the program’s best start since winning their first 20 games in the 1985-86 season.
UCF (9-8, 3-1) pulled out a 64-59 victory Wednrsday over East Carolina to win its second straight and third conference game since joining C-USA this season.
Justin Rose had 18 points for the Golden Knights, who have won three of their last four after losing four straight. Anthony Williams scored 11 of his 14 points in the first half for UCF, who shot 60.9 percent from the floor before the break.
UCF has lost to both its ranked opponents this season—then-No. 11 Florida and then-No. 19 Kentucky—and has not faced a Top 5 team since playing then-No. 2 Florida in December 2003.
Memphis has won all three games between the teams.