MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—One month into the season, and a month before resuming Conference USA play, Memphis coach John Calipari has a better handle on his 16th-ranked Tigers.
An 82-70 victory over Mississippi on Saturday provided Calipari a clearer picture.
“We’re not where we want to be yet,” Calipari said. “This team has a lot of growing to do. We have two sophomores, a freshman and a junior and a couple more freshmen coming off the bench and playing. So we have a ways to go.
“But it’s a heck of a win. If you said to me prior to the season `At this time you will be 7-2,’ I would have done back flips.”
Memphis (7-2) shot 52.6 percent in the second half and outrebounded the Rebels 44-35.
Chris Douglas-Roberts led Memphis with 17 points, while Jeremy Hunt added 16 and Antonio Anderson had 14. Joey Dorsey had 10 rebounds and Kareem Cooper, Dorsey’s backup, had nine points and seven rebounds in 15 minutes. Cooper, a 6-foot-11 sophomore, was making his debut after being suspended from the start of the season for a violation of team policy.
Clarence Sanders had 18 points for Mississippi (7-2), while Todd Abernathy scored 16. Rebels leading scorer Bam Doyne, who entered the game averaging 17.6 points, was limited to seven on 1-for-12 shooting.
Rebels center Dwayne Curtis, who was the team’s leading scorer last season, made his debut after being out since early in the preseason with a broken bone in his left foot. He played 17 minutes and had two points and six rebounds.
The Tigers, coming off a 28.6 percent shooting performance in a 76-58 loss at Tennessee on Wednesday, rebounded to shoot 47 percent.
“With the talent we had last year, in that Tennessee game a few days ago we would have come out OK,” Calipari said. “Somebody would have just made plays.”
The Tigers broke away from a 32-29 halftime lead by attacking the offensive boards and consistently driving to the basket. Douglas-Roberts scored 10 points in the opening 10 minutes of the second half as Memphis went up 60-43. A 3-pointer by Hunt and a follow slam by Dorsey put the Tigers up 65-45.
“In the second half (Memphis) stopped thinking and started attacking, which is what they do and they do it really well,” Rebels coach Andy Kennedy said. “We did not respond and they really started taking the action at us. We had a four-minute stretch in the second half in which we had a lot of empty possessions … against quality teams you can’t have those lulls.”
Memphis built a 21-8 lead in the first half, getting key contributions from 6-foot-11 center Kareem Cooper, who was playing in his first game of the season. Cooper had missed the first month as a result of violating team rules.
But the Tigers were unable to capitalize on the run. Ole Miss gradually cut into the lead and used a 13-4 run late in the opening half to get within 30-27.
Ole Miss shot 47.8 percent in the first half to offset being outrebounded 20-15 and outscored 16-8 in the paint.
“That was a good win,” Calipari said. “At times I thought we were tremendous and there were other times I thought: `Could we do this bad?’ We’re still trying to find ourselves.”
The Rebels’ other loss was 77-59 to No. 19 Connecticut.