Having matched the best start in school history, Memphis looks to stay unbeaten in Conference USA play as it visits Tulane on Saturday.
The third-ranked Tigers (23-2, 9-0) can also clinch one of the conference tournament’s first-round byes with a win. Memphis has won the last nine meetings and are 32-9 overall against Tulane.
The Tigers extended their winning streak to 12 games on Tuesday night after Rodney Carney scored 15 points and Kareem Cooper had 13 and 13 rebounds in an 80-41 rout of Southern Mississippi.
Memphis held Southern Miss to less than 16 percent (4-of-26) shooting from the floor in the first half as it opened a 34-10 lead.
The victory matched Memphis’ best 25-game start, set in 1984-85 and matched the next season.
The only losses for the current squad have come against then-No. 2 Duke on Nov. 25 and then-No. 15 Texas on Jan. 2, but Memphis coach John Calipari does not let his team overlook any opponent.
“I didn’t like the start of the game. The first two shots were not how you start a game,” Calipari said after Tuesday’s win. “We had a leaping leaner and a fade-away with a guy on us to start the game. But what I liked was as the game got going and we had a big lead, we never got out of whack. We kept running our offense.”
Carney, who averages a team-high 18 points per game, is used to his coach’s attention to detail.
“He coaches every single play, and you’re going to have to do it, even if we’re up 35 or 40,” Carney said. “If you’re out there playing around, and not really intense, he’s going to sub you. You don’t want to get subbed. You want to be out there and play.”
Cooper played a season-high 20 minutes Tuesday in his second game back after missing four contests following a Jan. 23 arrest for marijuana possession in a Memphis suburb. He pleaded guilty to charges connected to the incident before Tuesday’s game.
“I thought Kareem was terrific,” Memphis coach John Calipari said. “He’s been working out at 6:30 in the morning. He’s been working hard at practice. He has been humble about this whole situation.”
Memphis is one game ahead of UTEP for first place in the conference and hosts the Miners on Wednesday.
Tulane (9-14, 4-6) has lost consecutive road games after a season-high four-game winning streak.
Quincy Davis had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Ryan Williams added 17 points for the Green Wave in 87-82 loss Wednesday to Alabama-Birmingham.
Davis became the 28th player in school history to score 1,000 points on Wednesday and leads Tulane with a 12.5 scoring average. The 6-9 senior center also averages a team-high 7.5 rebounds in conference play.
Memphis is the highest ranked team to visit Fogelman Arena since Jan. 12, 1959, when the Green Wave played top-ranked Kentucky.