The University of Memphis fell behind 9-1 in the first five minutes of the game, but came back to bury Conference USA rival UAB Monday night in The Pyramid. The final score was 86-69, but the game was never in doubt after Memphis went on a 12-2 run to open the second half.
Theyre laughing in your faces, Tiger head coach John Calipari screamed at his starters after calling time-out just three minutes into the first half and the Tigers trailing 6-1.
The first year coach had to dig deep into his bag of motivational tricks to get his team started. He yelled, he cursed, he stomped his feet, he ran players in and out of the game. Finally under the capable leadership of senior point guard Shyrone Chatman, Memphis took its first lead of the game at 18-17 with 7:25 to go in the first half. From there Memphis (15-11; 9-4 in C-USA) gradually pulled away before pouring it on the visiting Blazers in the second half. The Tigers led 33-29 at halftime.
Afterward Calipari was happy that his team had ended a two-game losing streak in their third game in five days. He rewarded the players by giving them two days off. The next game for Memphis is Sunday night against South Florida, the team currently tied with the Tigers for both best overall record in Conference USA and the National Division title. The game is the final home game of the year for the Tigers, who close out the season against Southern Miss and Louisville on the road. Sundays game, to be televised on ESPN2, will mark the final appearance in The Pyramid for seniors Marcus Moody, Shannon Forman, Shyrone Chatman, and Shamel Jones.
For the third game in a row, Jones gave Memphis a first-half lift with dominating physical play in the paint. Kelly Wise had a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds. He also had 3 assists and 2 blocks. Chatman finished with 15 points, 4 steals, 4 assists, and 0 turnovers in 30 minutes. Forman and Courtney Trask each scored 11 for the Tigers.
The only Memphis player who did not play was junior John Grice. Calipari said after the game that he did not expect Grice to play any more this season. When asked if that was a basketball decision, Calipari said, Its my decision. He would not elaborate. Grice, a junior college transfer from Shelby State, was a starter before serving a 16-game suspension (along with Trask) for academic misconduct. The two were reinstated three games ago.