Memphis freshman Tyreke Evans and his teammates are fully aware of all the winning streaks coach John Calipari’s program has initiated over the past few seasons, and they don’t want to be responsible for ending them.
Evans looks to help the fifth-ranked Tigers complete their third straight undefeated run through Conference USA when they wrap up the regular season Saturday against Tulane at the FedEx Forum.
Memphis (27-3, 15-0) already has clinched its fourth straight regular-season conference title and is hoping to receive a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament by winning next week’s league tournament.
First, the Tigers would like to extend the nation’s longest winning streak to 22 games - one of several remarkable streaks Memphis owns.
The Tigers have won 57 consecutive league games since an 80-74 defeat to UAB on March 2, 2006, and 30 straight C-USA home contests since the start of the 2005-06 season.
“It’s on our mind a lot. We don’t want to mess up those streaks,” Evans said after Wednesday’s 69-60 win over Houston. “Every night, we go out there and play our hardest. Even when we’re not having a good night, we can still go out there, play hard and try to win.”
Although Memphis came away with the victory Wednesday, it was challenged by the Cougars, who tied the score at 48 with 9:41 remaining.
“We got a little bit sloppy there,” Evans said. “We’ve got to clean that up.”
Evans, averaging a team-high 16.9 points, had another solid game with 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting, seven rebounds and four assists.
This will be his first game against the Green Wave (13-15, 7-8).
The Tigers have not played Tulane since a 75-56 victory in last season’s conference tournament quarterfinals. Memphis forward Robert Dozier had 14 points and nine rebounds in that win, and he’s averaged 16.0 points on 58.6 percent shooting in his last three games.
Memphis has won 15 straight over Tulane since Feb. 9, 2000, and the games have rarely been close with the Tigers winning the last seven by an average of 28.8 points.
The Tigers also have won 12 straight home games over the Green Wave since an 86-85 loss in 1992 and are 23-2 all-time against them in Memphis.
Tulane hasn’t played since last Saturday’s 86-77 win over UTEP, its third straight victory after losing five of six.
The Green Wave, shooting 52.2 percent from the field during the winning streak, came within a point of their highest total of the season Saturday.
“What a great win for our team at this time of the year,” Tulane coach Dave Dickerson told the school’s official athletic Web site. “We’re playing some of our best basketball of the season right now.”
Against UTEP, Kevin Sims had 22 points - 9.0 better than his team-high season average. He had nine points and was 2-of-10 from the floor in the loss to the Tigers in last year’s conference tournament.
Tulane, which is 2-9 on the road this season, has dropped 22 straight against ranked opponents since a 73-62 win over No. 25 North Carolina State on Dec. 22, 1999.