EL PASO, Texas (AP)—Memphis coach John Calipari knew his No. 6 Tigers wouldn’t have an easy time going into a matchup with his protege and former player— first-year UTEP coach Tony Barbee.
Still, with 21 points from starting guard Chris Douglas-Roberts and reserve Jeremy Hunt, who added 19 points from the bench, Memphis (26-3, 15-0 C-USA) was able to put it away in the final minutes to win their 18th straight game, 78-67.
“Two shots for them and they win that game,” Calipari said, adding that he was just grateful two late-game three pointers didn’t fall for the Miners.
Calipari said he expected the Miners to know what his team was planning, since Barbee helped run the potent offense as an assistant until coming to UTEP (14-15, 6-9) this season. He also played for Calipari at UMass.
“They beat us to our positions five or six times,” Calipari said.
Barbee, whose has had a disappointing season, said he and Calipari “are mirror images of one and other,” coaching the exact same type of game.
Stefon Jackson, a sophomore guard who led UTEP with 19 points, said the Miners felt like they were playing a bigger, stronger version of themselves.
Barbee met with his mentor briefly after the game, but declined to tell reporters what Calipari told him.
“I’d like to keep that between us,” Barbee said.
Memphis, which has already secured the regular season conference title, could face the bottom-of-the-conference Miners again next week in the C-USA tournament, a prospect that Calipari said he wouldn’t look forward to.