LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP)—Memphis coach John Calipari doesn’t hesitate to say what players love to hear.
“We’re a team trying to play fast,” he said.
The 12th-ranked Tigers did just that Monday in a 77-65 victory over Oklahoma in the opening-round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
The Tigers were far from perfect, committing 18 turnovers and missing 17 free throws, but their speed and balanced attack made life miserable for Oklahoma, which had 21 turnovers.
“Memphis did a great job of spreading the floor and driving. That’s a very unselfish team,” first-year Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. “Their pressure took us out of a lot of things we like to do.”
Robert Dozier had 13 points to lead Memphis, which starts three sophomores and a freshman and had eight players score between 13 and six points.
“That’s our style of play,” sophomore guard Antonio Anderson said. “Coach makes a point that one of us doesn’t have to be the star and that together with that equal balance we can do what we like to do.”
The Tigers (2-0) will play No. 19 Georgia Tech (4-0), which beat Purdue 79-61, in the semifinals on Tuesday.
Memphis took control at the start of the second half by hitting seven of its first 10 shots to lead 58-42 with 12:04 left.
Oklahoma (2-1) drew within 10 points twice, the last at 69-59 with 4:36 left on two free throws by Michael Neal. The Tigers, however, were able to improve their foul shooting and keep their lead over the final 2 1/2 minutes.
“We missed about 15 layups, too,” Calipari said when asked about the early trouble at the foul line. “These kids made them when they mattered.”
The Tigers missing 14 of their first 27 free throw attempts before finishing 20-for-37.
Neal, who missed the Sooners’ first two games because of a suspension over playing in an unsanctioned summer league, finished with 18 points. Taylor Griffin added 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“We didn’t handle the pressure well,” Capel said. “We didn’t attack it the way we wanted to get easy shots. When they have success it ignites them and they came at us in waves.”
Freshman Willie Kemp had 12 points for Memphis, while Anderson and Andre Allen had 10 each.
“Willie’s a little nervous right now,” Calipari said. “He had 12 points, one assist, two turnovers. That’s not bad, but I’m telling him to let loose, be more reckless.”
Oklahoma scored the opening basket of the second half to get within 39-34, but Anderson and Allen hit 3s on consecutive possessions to start Memphis’ hot streak from the field.
“Those 3s gave us a lot of momentum,” Anderson said. “We weren’t shooting well in the first half and those got us back to the way we want to play to control the tempo.”
The win was the 150th at Memphis for coach John Calipari, who is 150-59 in his seventh season there. His overall college record is 343-130.
Memphis improved to 5-0 all-time against Oklahoma.
This is Memphis’ fourth appearance in Maui, with its best finish third in 1992. Oklahoma is in its third appearance and the Sooners lost in the championship game in 1988.