MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—Unhappy with his team’s start in recent games, Memphis coach John Calipari shuffled his lineup for more energy.
Then he shuffled the lineup again minutes after the opening tip and kept shuffling as the 18th-ranked Tigers ran away from Marist, 100-61 on Tuesday night.
Shawn Taggart had 21 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks and freshman Tyreke Evans added 24 points as the Tigers dominated every phase of the game.
“Things we had worked on for three or four days, carried over,” Calipari said. “The people who have been in our practices know that everything went up a notch.”
Antonio Anderson scored 12 points and Roburt Sallie finished with 11 for Memphis (5-1). Evans was 10-of-13 from the field, and added six rebounds and four assists.
David Devezin led the Red Foxes (2-4) with 11 points, while Lawrence Williams and Ryan Schneider had 10 each.
Memphis built the lead to double digits within the first seven minutes, continued to extend it through the first half and kept the pressure on after the break, leading by 40 with 10 minutes left, and eventually leading by as many as 45.
“We’ve had leads (this season), and they’ve broken down,” Taggart said. “Now, we know we have to keep our foot on that throat. We’ve got to be relentless.”
The Tigers shot 53 percent, and held the Red Foxes to 35 percent and caused 21 turnovers. Memphis blocked 14 shots, one short of the school record set against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 1998.
The game was the latest of the teacher-vs.-student matchups for Calipari. First-year Marist coach Chuck Martin was an assistant on Calipari’s staff at Memphis the previous two years. Calipari will face five former assistants this season.
“I knew I wasn’t getting any calls,” Martin said with a laugh. “I’m at the FedExForum against Cal. You know you’re not getting any calls.”
Martin also knew his team was outmanned because he witnessed the Tigers’ recent runs through the NCAA tournament, including last year’s march to the national championship game and an overtime loss to Kansas, from a seat on the bench. But telling his new team about the intensity and the Red Foxes experiencing it was a different story.
“They needed to feel the sting,” Martin said, later adding, “(I) know what’s coming. My kids didn’t know what was coming. You try to explain it, but they don’t know what’s coming through the tunnel.”
Memphis, which had nine days off since its first loss of the season to Xavier on Nov. 23, went with a different lineup, starting Pierre Henderson-Niles and freshman Wesley Witherspoon, who became the latest Tiger to get a chance at the point. Witherspoon had three assists, no turnovers and six points.
But the experiment was only temporary as the Tigers constantly shuffled players throughout the first half, putting fresh players against Marist.
The start was much crisper than against Xavier, when the Tigers were 1-of-11 from the field.
“You go 1-for-11, well then different people need to be starting,” Calipari said of the change. “We needed to try something different, and that’s what we did. Obviously, it worked.”
Memphis led 51-24 at halftime with Evans scoring 18 points and missing only one of eight shots as Memphis shot 56 percent in the first half.
Schneider was the only bright spot for the Red Foxes, scoring 10 points.
The domination began immediately. Memphis shot well from the start, rejected Marist shots in the middle and forced turnovers leading to 18 points in the first half.
At times, the Red Foxes seemed content to just launch shots in desperation as defenders hounded them. It was so bad that coming out of a timeout midway through the first half, the Tigers accidentally sent only four players onto the court.
Marist missed three shots and failed to score even with the 5-on-4 advantage before Memphis called timeout to get a fifth player on the court.
“The most impressive thing is their guards are so big,” Martin said. “Wesley Witherspoon is 6-foot-8, and he’s their point guard. Antonio Anderson is 6-foot-6 and built like a middle linebacker. Tyreke is their small guard, and he’s 6-foot-5. We would get by one guard, and then there’s another guard.”
Memphis held Marist to 29 percent shooting and caused 14 turnovers in the half. The Tigers blocked seven shots, spread among six players. Memphis’ domination of the middle included a 38-10 advantage in the paint.
The Tigers’ 27-point halftime lead, matched their biggest at the half this season, and they coasted the rest of the way.
“There were a lot of things I saw that I liked,” Calipari said. “However, there are still a lot of things we need to work on.”