The University of Memphis shook off any ill effects from a long trip and the high altitude of the Rocky Mountains, staying alive in the NIT with a resounding 71-62 win at Utah Tuesday night.
This was just the fifth loss for Utah at the Huntsman Center, where the Utes have an amazing record of 105-5 over the last six seasons. The Tigers led from buzzer to buzzer as they dominated Utah on the inside and hit enough free throws down the stretch to ice the game. The Utes cut the Memphis lead to four in the second half but the Tigers were solid at the free throw line, hitting 21 of 28 from the charity stripe.
Memphis (18-14) now meets the winner of the UTEP vs. McNeese State game. The site and date for that game will be determined later, but school officials think they will be asked to host the contest at The Pyramid next Monday.
We defended and went right at them. We were on them from the get go, said John Calipari. I was proud of the way they played. They competed.
Earl Barron led Memphis with 18 points and six rebounds. Kelly Wise added 13 points in just 16 foul-plagued minutes and Shamel Jones completed the inside domination with 10 points and 7 rebounds. Memphis had a 39-32 rebounding advantage and limited the Utes to 40 percent shooting. The Tigers led 40-32 at the half.
Wouldnt it be nice for Shamel Jones to play the last two games in New York at Madison Square Garden? Calipari said after the game. Jones, a senior forward, is from Brooklyn.
That is what these Tigers are shooting for: make it to the Big Apple and the NIT Final Four. Two more wins will accomplish that goal.