MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—Memphis coach John Calipari has liked the unselfishness he has seen so far from his young team.
Antonio Anderson scored 17 points and had five assists in No. 14 Memphis’ 86-60 win over Arkansas State on Wednesday night.
“We have a team right now that really passes to one another, probably as unselfish as any team in the country,” Calipari said. “…We’re trying to work on us, and how we play. Overall, I thought it was a good effort. We’ve got a pretty good basketball team.”
Jeremy Hunt added 15 points for the Tigers (4-1), while Robert Dozier scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Joey Dorsey finished with 10 points.
Adrian Banks scored 25 points to lead the Indians (4-5). He was 11-for-21 from the field, including 3-for-7 from behind the arc.
“Obviously, he was our shining star,” Arkansas State coach Dickey Nutt said, “but we didn’t have the help we needed. We needed some inside play we didn’t have.”
Arkansas State played without leading rebounder and second-leading scorer Isaac Wells, who was suspended by Nutt prior to the game. Nutt was not specific about the violation other than it involved a rules violation and the suspension is indefinite.
“Just like anything, we have a set of rules, and we’re going to go by those rules,” Nutt said. “It doesn’t matter how high you can jump or how good you are, I’m not going to sacrifice anything we do as a program if you can’t go by the rules.”
That meant the Indians had to overcome the loss of 15.4 points and 7.9 rebounds. They were unable to come close.
Asked if Wells would have made a difference, Nutt replied: “Would we have beaten them? That’s always a tough call. It would have been very tough with him.”
The loss of Wells was only one hurdle Arkansas State faced. The Indians were playing their third game in five days.
Shortly after Banks gave the Indians an 18-17 lead early in the first half, Memphis pulled away. The Tigers went on a 23-6 run to end the first half for a 45-26 advantage and scored the first 10 points of the second half to take a 55-26 lead.
“That really killed us,” Nutt said of the Memphis run to open the second half.
Memphis extended its lead to 37 points midway through the half.
The Tigers finished with 52 points in the paint and scored 28 fastbreak points to offset a shaky performance from the perimeter. Memphis connected on 4-of-25 3-point attempts, including 1-of-13 in the second half.
But even with the runaway win and dominance, Calipari, as he usually does, found a period in the second half where things weren’t to his liking.
“What bothered me was that we went five minutes missing every shot, missing every layup,” Calipari said. “Our shooting percentage went from 55 percent to 46 percent in about four minutes. We also had three or four turnovers during that stretch for no reason. That’s not how we do this. We need to finish games.”
Whatever flaws Calipari detected in his team’s play, they were so minor, Nutt didn’t notice them. He marveled at the chemistry the Tigers displayed and how well they played together. The Indians coach said there was little doubt it is the best Memphis team he has seen in his 12 years at Arkansas State.
“Studying them, you try to find some weakness. There are no weaknesses,” Nutt said of the Tigers. “(Calipari’s) got a special team. There are a lot of teams that would have been beaten tonight, and that includes anybody in the Big 12, the Pac 10 or the Big 10 or whatever.”