MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—About the time UAB should have been building confidence against No. 17 Memphis, the Blazers lost their poise.
The Tigers erased an early first-half deficit with a 15-0 run and coasted to their sixth straight victory, 79-54 over UAB on Tuesday night.
“We just played intimidated,” UAB coach Mike Davis said. “We got off to a good start. Most teams do. … But (Memphis) did a great job of staying with what they do, and they kept doing it, and that was too much for us to overcome.”
Robert Dozier had 15 points and eight rebounds to lead the Tigers (14-3, 4-0 Conference USA), while Jeremy Hunt added 14 points and Willie Kemp had 12 going 4-of-7 from 3-point range.
Joey Dorsey had 12 rebounds for Memphis, which finished with a 42-22 advantage on the boards, while Antonio Anderson had a career-high nine assists.
“I like getting my teammates the ball. That’s what I like to do more than making shots,” said Anderson, who has taken on some of the point guard duties and is averaging 5.7 assists over the last six games. “I’d rather have more assists than points any day.”
Wen Mukubu led UAB (10-8, 2-2) with 18 points, including a four-point play midway through the second half. Lawrence Kinnard scored 13 points, while leading scorer Paul Delaney finished with 12, 5.6 under his season average.
Memphis played most of the game without leading scorer Chris Douglas-Roberts, who tried to play but went to the locker room early. He is still bothered by a sprained ankle suffered against Houston two games ago.
The Blazers have lost eight straight on the road against the Tigers, including a 57-46 decision in last season’s C-USA tournament championship game.
The early stages saw the Blazers sprinting to the offensive end, a change in strategy from most teams that try and slow the pace against the Tigers. UAB switched from a zone defense to man-to-man through much of the first half, and Memphis adapted slowly.
“It was ugly the first 5 minutes,” Memphis coach John Calipari said. “After that, it wasn’t ugly. I thought we played really well.
“… I’m happy for Robert Dozier. I’m like: ‘Robert, that’s what you should be. Now, let’s try to get better.”’
The Blazers led 17-14 and were shooting well from the field. That’s when Memphis went on its run as UAB went scoreless for 6 minutes.
“Once they tied it up 17-17, we just stopped executing our game plan,” Davis said. “… We were trying to take some charges, but we didn’t take one charge in the first half. We got out of the way and turned our bodies.”
Kemp’s 3-pointer capped the run that gave Memphis a 29-17 lead. The Tigers would extend it to 18 points before taking a 42-26 halftime lead. They would eventually lead by as many as 27.
Memphis shot 53 percent from the field in the first half, including 5-of-12 from 3-point range. UAB, which was shooting 62 percent before Memphis’ run, ended up hitting 44 percent after making only four of its final 14 shots before halftime.
Memphis finished shooting 49 percent for the game, while UAB was at 44 percent. The Blazers were just 6-of-17 at the free throw line.
“We have to make some free throws,” Davis said. “We shot 35 percent from the free throw line, and that tells you the whole story. It’s time for some guys to make some free throws. We’ve got guys that act like they’ve never been there before.”