The University of Memphis started the final week of the regular season by beating South Florida 79-61 before 13,118 at The Pyramid and a national television audience on ESPN2. The victory gives the Tigers the number-one record in Conference USA (10-4) going into the final two games of the regular season. Memphis leads four teams tied for second -- Cincinnati, Marquette, Southern Miss and South Florida (all with 9-5 league records) -- by one full game.
Senior Shannon Forman had 19 points to lead the Tigers on Senior Night. Kelly Wise had his 12th double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds. South Florida shot just 34 percent from the field. Memphis hit 48 percent.
The Tigers jumped to a 15-1 lead to start the game and were never seriously threatened by USF after that. Memphis is now 16-11 for the season with two games remaining (at Southern Miss Wednesday and at Louisville Saturday).
I am just so happy for our seniors and what they have been able to do and accomplish through adversity, head coach John Calipari said after the games. The four seniors -- Marcus Moody, Shyrone Chatman, Shamel Jones, and Forman -- were introduced individually before the game. Calipari presented each of the players with a framed photograph before taking the microphone and addressing the crowd (17,596 paid). He said the players had overcome great adversity in their basketball career, referring to the Tic Price scandal and having to play for three different coaches.
Following the game, Calipari continued to talk up Memphis NCAA tournament chances. He pointed out that his team had just won 12 of its last 15 games.
Im watching all these other teams, and I know
what we are, he said. Later, on his post-game radio show, Calapari said he thought his team was among the 30 best in the country.