Pepperdine (5-9) at Memphis (13-0)

Cloudy Currently: Memphis, TN
Temp: 50° F
  • Game info: 1:00 pm EST Sat Jan 5, 2008
Preview | Box Score | Recap

John Calipari has a very short turnaround to prepare his team for its next game. Fortunately for him, it’s against a coach whose offense he has virtually copied for Memphis.

The second-ranked Tigers look to extend their home winning streak to 40 games Saturday when they host Pepperdine, which is coached by Calipari’s good friend - Vance Walberg.

“We go back and forth and exchange ideas, talk two, three times a week,” Calipari said.

Saturday’s game is set for a noon start locally after Memphis (12-0) beat Siena 102-58 on Thursday night. The Tigers’ 39-game home winning streak is tied with BYU for the longest in the nation and dates back to a loss to Texas on Jan. 2, 2006.

Memphis likely won’t have to do much to get ready for Pepperdine (5-9) because of Calipari’s relationship with Walberg. The two coaches first met in 2003 when Walberg was at Fresno City College, where he utilized the AASAA system he developed as a high school coach.

“Shoot, shoot and shoot some more,” Walberg said in describing the system on Pepperdine’s official Web site. “It’s really very simple. What we do is I spread you out and attack the different gaps. We call it AASAA - Attack, Attack, Skip, Attack, Attack.”

At Fresno City College, Walberg went 133-11 from 2003-06 before being hired by Pepperdine. Calipari adopted the offense despite being mentored by Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown, and most recently spoke about the system with Walberg at a clinic last September.

“I like it. It’s stimulated by thinking,” Calipari said during the 2006 NCAA tournament after his first full season using the system. “I thought it was the best way to utilize these players. So I changed. People thought I was crazy. ‘You’ve won all these games doing it one way, all of a sudden you’re changing everything.’”

That offensive gameplan helped Memphis make 15 of 30 3-pointers in Thursday’s rout. Chris Douglas-Roberts was particularly sharp with 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc.

“The knock on us is we can’t shoot,” said Douglas-Roberts, who averages a team-high 17.5 points. “So, when we knock our shots down, it puts pressure on the other team.”

Freshman Jeff Robinson led a big effort by the reserves with 20 points after scoring a total of eight in his first seven games. The bench produced 45 points.

“I loved the fact that the guys on the bench performed,” Calipari said. “I said to them: ‘I don’t care who the game is, when you get your minutes, get in there, and perform and prove you should be playing more.’

“The advantage we have is that we can go 11 or 12 deep and that whoever we play is ready to help us.”

This is the Tigers’ final game before opening Conference USA play Wednesday against East Carolina.

The Waves have played their last six games on the road and have lost three straight. Only three of their 15 current players saw action last season and three freshmen started in their last game, an 80-79 loss at Manhattan on Dec. 21.

The best of those freshmen appears to be leading scorer Tyrone Shelley, who averages 15.6 points to rank sixth in the West Coast Conference. His former high school teammate, Waves freshman forward Malcolm Thomas, is seventh at 15.0 points per game.

Pepperdine is scoring 78.6 points per game under Walberg’s system to rank second among WCC teams.

Memphis leads the series 5-1, and won the last meeting 80-70 in the first round of the 1992 NCAA tournament.

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