Derrick Rose doesn’t lose often, but he lost in his first trip to Madison Square Garden during his high school days.
Rose returns to the Garden for the first time in his collegiate career when No. 3 Memphis meets Oklahoma on Thursday in the semifinals of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic.
The 6-foot-4 freshman guard has lived up to his billing through two games for the Tigers (2-0), averaging 19 points while shooting 58 percent from the field. Rose not only wowed the fans in Memphis in the first two games of this tournament, but also his teammates.
“He’s another playmaker on a team of playmakers,” said Memphis guard Chris-Douglas Roberts, the preseason Conference USA player of the year. “If you don’t know how good he is, you will soon.”
As a senior last season, Rose led Simeon High School in Chicago to a 33-2 record and its second straight state title. That team’s last loss came in the Garden on Jan. 14, 53-51 to New York’s Rice High School despite 22 points from Rose.
Rose returned to New York for the Jordan Brand All-Star Game and had 12 points, 10 rebounds and five assists as his Yellow team won 127-119 on April 21.
“We’re going to playing against a team of pros on Thursday,” Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. “A guy that’s arguably maybe the No. 1 pick in the draft next year in Rose, a guy that people compare to Jason Kidd - a more athletic version of Jason Kidd.”
The Tigers will return to the Garden on Dec. 4 for a game against Southern California and star freshman guard O.J. Mayo.
Leading returning rebounder Joey Dorsey is expected to make his season debut Thursday for Memphis. The team’s only senior missed both games last week with a right shoulder sprain, but returned for 10 points and 10 rebounds on Monday in a 90-35 exhibition win over Christian Brothers.
Memphis has won all five previous meetings with Oklahoma (3-0), including a 77-65 win in the Maui Classic last season. Robert Dozier scored a team-high 13 points for the Tigers, who forced 21 turnovers and overcame 20-for-37 (54.1 percent) foul shooting.
The Sooners are also led by a freshman in Blake Griffin, who is averaging team highs of 16.3 points and 9.0 rebounds. Griffin was teammates with Rose at the Jordan game and had eight points and eight rebounds in 13 minutes.
Oklahoma won 99-59 against Alcorn State on Monday as Longar Longar scored 20 points and Griffin added 16 and 11 rebounds, but the freshman believes there is plenty of room for improvement.
“We need to play with more energy, knock down shots, rebound and play better defense,” Griffin said. “To beat a team like Memphis you have to do all of those things. We know that we can do those things the way that the coaches teach us, we just need to do it more consistently.”
The Sooners went just 1-9 against ranked teams last season - the first under Capel.
The winner will face Connecticut or Gardner-Webb in Friday’s championship game.