MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—Memphis coach John Calipari was a bit perplexed about the way his No. 19 Tigers lost concentration with a big lead.
Chris Douglas-Roberts scored a career-high 28 points on 10-of-12 shooting to lead Memphis to an 88-63 victory over Austin Peay on Thursday night.
“I saw some great signs,” Calipari said. “The biggest thing is real unselfish play. I thought defensively, we were pretty good. But, again, at the end of the game, I’d like to strangle a couple of guys.”
Douglas-Roberts, a sophomore guard, also was 8-of-10 from the line and had five assists for Memphis (8-2). The Tigers shot 62 percent from the field.
Doneal Mack, Jeremy Hunt and Kareem Cooper added 11 points each, and Joey Dorsey finished with 11 rebounds. Cooper hit all five of his shots.
“Basically, right now, we’re competing, being aggressive, being gritty, just being mean and just being like a beast,” Cooper said.
Derek Wright led Austin Peay (3-5) with 18 points, and Fernandez Lockett had 12. Landon Shipley, the Governors’ second-leading scorer at 12.1 points, started his first game of the season, but managed only six points.
Memphis scored the game’s first 10 points and built a 22-2 lead.
Governors coach Dave Loos called three early timeouts to try to reverse the Tigers’ momentum. It didn’t help, and Austin Peay never threatened the rest of the way.
“I think we were a little nervous to be honest and short-armed a couple (of shots),” Loos said. “But we had good looks and just didn’t get any of them. They jumped out and next thing you know, I think it was 20-2. I was afraid to look after that.”
With its taller frontline clogging the middle and controlling the boards, Memphis outrebounded Austin Peay 43-21 and outscored the Governors in the paint 58-20. The fast break points were 25-8 in Memphis’ favor.
“Overall, they’re just too big, strong and athletic,” Loos said. “We couldn’t keep them away from the basket.
At times, the difference was so evident, Calipari had to coax his team to continue playing with intensity.
“You’re up 30, and I’m telling guys, I want (them) to play like it’s the first two minutes of the game, or don’t play. But we want to break down, and give up a 3 or try to make a crazy play, which we don’t play that way.”
Memphis caused Austin Peay turnovers off the press and controlled the middle with three early blocks. That led to the Governors missing eight of their first nine shots, while the Tigers scored 13 points off Austin Peay’s first seven turnovers.
The Governors shot 27 percent for the first half, including 1-of-10 from 3-point range, while Memphis connected on 63 percent. The biggest problem for the Tigers was after building an early lead, they got sloppy handling the basketball, committing eight turnovers in the half.
The Tigers closed the half with the last six points to rebuild the lead to 47-25.
Douglas-Roberts led Memphis in the first half with 17 points, hitting seven of his eight first-half shots. Wright led the Governors with six points in the half.
Memphis maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half, despite calling off the pressure defense and committing 10 turnovers in the first 9 minutes. The rash of turnovers didn’t seem to overly concern Calipari because he looked at the 24 assists his team had in the game.
“There was a little bit of a lull in the middle, but I subbed. I got those guys out,” Calipari said. “If you’re on the floor, and we’re in a lull, it’s got to be those (five players).
“I went and subbed two or three guys, and we went back at them.”