Memphis-Tennessee caps full day of college hoops

Updated: February 24, 2008

Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Tennessee ended No. 1 Memphis' bid for a perfect season.

Key Shot

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- To sum up the difference between Tennessee and Memphis, let's examine the postgame scene.

The Vols are on quite a joy ride, best illustrated by coach Bruce Pearl. The amiable coach's postgame journey took him from the media interview to a fake "Entertainment Tonight" bit to his egging on the fans' No. 1 chants and "Rocky Top" singing, finally ending at his radio show.

Meanwhile, Memphis' locker room was a tomb. Lockers were slammed. Heads hung low. Senior Joey Dorsey never raised his head. Junior Chris Douglas-Roberts didn't remove a jersey from his face. Three players talked and didn't say much, other than junior Robert Dozier who said that the Vols "outplayed us to every loose ball" and "they were the better team." Freshman Derrick Rose said that he "felt empty" after the first loss of the season.

No. 2 Tennessee likely will replace Memphis as the No. 1 team in the country after the 66-62 victory here in what was deemed the most-hyped regular-season game in the schools' history. It even brought "the King's" widow, Priscilla Presley and Peyton Manning to the FedExForum.

To read all of Katz's column, click here.

Key Win

PHILADELPHIA -- Scottie Reynolds lifted the leg on his baggy uniform shorts to reveal a tiny dark mark on his right shin.

The scar came courtesy of a nasty gash the Villanova guard suffered when he dove into the stands for a loose ball at West Virginia last season. Reynolds figured out the Big East that night in Morgantown when the Wildcats took a 67-56 pounding, plus an on-court postgame tongue lashing from Jay Wright.

"Until you go through it, you can't understand the Big East," Reynolds said. "Coach can reiterate how tough it is all the time, how if you get a rebound in this game, you won't get in the Big East, but you have to experience it for yourself. I'll never forget that game. We got killed."

Reynolds' teammates haven't shed blood but it seems they're beginning to understand. The Wildcats upset No. 13 Connecticut 67-65 on Saturday for their third consecutive win. A team that earlier in the month looked like it might not make the conference tournament has put itself back into the NCAA Tournament conversation. Villanova isn't in, not by a long shot, but with remaining games against Marquette, Louisville, South Florida and Providence plus the Big East tourney, the Cats (17-9, 7-7 Big East) can at least build a case.

What's changed in the last few weeks? Just about everything. A team that couldn't stop a CYO team is suddenly playing lockdown defense, holding its last five opponents to an average 57.6 points. The catalyst was a loss. On Feb. 11, the struggling Wildcats went bucket-for-bucket with Georgetown, losing the game after a controversial call allowed Jonathan Wallace to win the game at the free-throw line.

"After the Georgetown game, we all started to realize what coach was saying was true," said Reynolds, who had 18 against UConn, including the decisive bucket on a dribble drive to the hoop that he scooped over 7-foot-3 shot blocker Hasheem Thabeet.

Expert Analysis

• After Oklahoma State beat Kansas, Terrel Harris and a few other Cowboys were seen crying tears of joy as their season suddenly had meaning with four wins in five games over three surefire (with Baylor's win) NCAA Tournament teams. Harris, like so many OSU players, has had an up and down season, and he blamed himself for Sean Sutton's coaching being questioned. OSU's fortunes have turned around with the tremendous play of Byron Eaton, who completely and totally controls the offense and is playing smarter defense as well.

• Memphis proved both skeptics and fans right Saturday night. The skeptics have said all along that Memphis could not hit a high enough percentage of 3s and free throws and lacked the half-court offensive structure to win the biggest of games. And they were right. Yet fans who love how hard Memphis plays and how much it shares the basketball were also nearly proven right. My overwhelming suspicion is that neither Tennessee nor Memphis has the patience or inside scoring to beat UCLA, Kansas or UNC, although Tennessee did get two quality looks from Tyler Smith on its last two possessions.

• Drake is for real. I know the Bulldogs had lost two of three in league play before beating Butler in Hinkle Fieldhouse Saturday night, but those losses were by five points combined. Adam Emmenecker is so solid at both ends, and he slyly creates for Josh Young in what seems to be the best backcourt no one talks about.

• UConn was all out of whack offensively against Villanova. A.J. Price took 22 shots (he made six, three of which were late in the game), while his teammates took just 33. Price got a little selfish in pick-and-roll situations and took too many bad shots behind the screen. Thankfully UConn will be at full strength for its next game as Jerome Dyson comes back to take some of those shots from Price.

• IU came into a difficult situation. But maybe worse yet, the Hoosiers were not prepared. IU has used zone successfully against Northwestern this season, yet IU chose to pressure Northwestern in the half court with simple man-to-man defense. Dan Dakich chose to zone very little, and IU never seemed to bump the Northwestern cutters like Michigan State does. Bill Carmody's boys nearly made IU pay to the tune of damaging road loss.

Randal Falker looked very good in Carbondale versus Nevada, which has some quality size. SIU is the second hottest team in the Valley, and the Salukis will have to prove their worth with a trip to Bradley on Tuesday (ESPN2. 7 ET).

Key Notes

• Top-ranked Memphis fell at home to No. 2 Tennessee 66-62. It was the 38th all-time meeting between the top two teams in the AP poll -- and each has now won 19 times. This is the 15th time that the game has been decided by five points or less, and the top-ranked team is now 7-8 in those games.

• This was the fifth time in the history of the AP poll that two teams from the same state faced each other as No. 1 and No. 2 -- and the second-ranked team has now won all five of those meetings. The four-point win by the Volunteers, however, is the closest of those games.

• The streaks that Memphis snapped included a 26-game overall win streak, 45 straight wins in regular-season play and a school-record 47 straight home wins.

• Vermont's Marqus Blakely had 19 points and 19 rebounds in the Catamounts' 84-73 win at UNC Wilmington. He is the seventh player this season to have at least 19 points and 19 rebounds in a road game -- and all seven of them have led their team to victory.

Michael Beasley had 44 points and 13 rebounds in Kansas State's 92-86 loss at Baylor. It was his 23rd double-double of the season, setting the record for most by a freshman. His 44 points was the most ever for a Big 12 player (the conference began play in 1996-97). It was his third 40-10 game of the season -- the only other freshman in the last decade to record just one 40-10 game was Tyler Hansbrough in 2005-06. Beasley put up these tremendous numbers despite the fact that his final field goal of the game came with 16:32 remaining in the game.

• There were 138 games played in Division I on Saturday, and 23 of them were decided by one possession. The home teams were 11-12 in those games. Home teams were 4-5 in games that went to overtime on Saturday.

• It is all over for NJIT -- not the losing, just the season. The Highlanders lost 76-50 at Utah Valley State, giving them an 0-29 record. That is the most losses without a win in Division I men's basketball history. It is not, however, the record for losses in a season. Grambling went 1-30 in the 1999-00 season and Longwood duplicated that mark in the 2004-05 season. The Highlanders will have a full offseason to gameplan for their 2008-09 opener, when they'll try to snap a 33-game losing streak. A loss in that game, and they tie the Division I record for most consecutive losses (34 by Sacramento State).

• UTEP junior Stefon Jackson had 41 points and 11 rebounds in the Miners' 91-62 win over East Carolina. He joins Reggie Williams (2) and Beasley (3) as the only players with a 40-point, 10-rebound game this season.


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On Tap For Sunday

• Louisville at Pitt, noon ET (Full Court)
• Syracuse at Notre Dame, 2 ET
• Xavier at Dayton, 2 ET
• Wisconsin at Ohio State, 4 ET
• Wake Forest at UNC, 6:30 ET
• Cal at Stanford, 9 ET

For the full schedule, click here. All games on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Full Court are also on ESPN360.com.

Top 25 Scores From Saturday

• No. 2 Tennessee 66, No. 1 Memphis 62
• No. 4 Duke 86, St. John's 56
• Oklahoma State 61, No. 5 Kansas 60
• No. 6 UCLA 75, Oregon 65
• No. 7 Texas 62, Oklahoma 45
• No. 18 Drake 71, No. 8 Butler 64
• No. 11 Georgetown 73, Cincinnati 53
• Villanova 67, No. 13 UConn 65
• No. 14 Indiana 85, Northwestern 82
• No. 16 Vandy 86, Georgia 74
• No. 17 Michigan State 66, Iowa 52
• Arizona 65, No. 19 Washington State 55
• Kent State 65, No. 20 Saint Mary's 57
• Nebraska 65, No. 22 Texas A&M 59
• No. 24 Marquette 78, Rutgers 48
• Baylor 92, No. 25 Kansas State 86

For all scores, click here.

Vols end No. 1 Memphis' perfection

BracketBuster mania

Here are the results from the first two days of this weekend's BracketBuster games:

Friday BracketBuster games
• Davidson 60, Winthrop 47
• Utah State 72, UC Santa Barbara 59

Saturday BracketBuster games
• VCU 57, Akron 52
• Ohio 69, George Mason 57
• Creighton 65, Oral Roberts 64
• Southern Illinois 74, Nevada 49
• No. 18 Drake 71, No. 8 Butler 64
• Valpo 99, Miami (Ohio) 94
• Cleveland State 59, Marist 45
• Rider 73, Cal State Northridge 72
• Bradley 84, UW Milwaukee 72
• Siena 93, Boise State 70
• Kent State 65, No. 20 Saint Mary's 57

One BrackeBuster game remains. Wright State plays at Illinois State on Sunday (ESPNU, 6:30 p.m. ET). For Kyle Whelliston's BracketBuster breakdown of the matchups, click here.

Drake vs. Butler = Hallelujah

By Pat Forde
ESPN.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Steve Miller once sang that you've got to go through hell before you get to heaven. Now I know what he meant.

I spent the week wading through the Kelvin Sampson swamp at Indiana. Sans hazmat suit.

Then, at week's end, I drove up to Hinkle Fieldhouse. Metaphorically apt, a Friday of sleet had given way to a Saturday of sunshine. When I got out of the car at Butler University, chimes were ringing. I think I might have heard angels singing, too.

I went inside the massive old basketball cathedral, where the late-afternoon sun was slanting through the windows. Oscar Robertson won state titles here. More recently, Greg Oden won regional titles here. Most famously, Bobby Plump capped the "Milan Miracle" here -- and was re-enacted here by Jimmy Chitwood in "Hoosiers."

This day, the assignment was to cover Drake beating Butler 71-64 in the BracketBusters marquee game. To sum up the experience in a word: Hallelujah.

The Bulldogs Squared constituted religious ecstasy for a scandal-scarred college basketball fan. Two very good teams playing a great game in a hoops shrine, with plenty to feel reassured about on either side.

To check out Forde's full column, click here.

Drake Bulldogs knock off Butler Bulldogs

A New Day

By Adam Rittenberg
ESPN.com

The tumultuous transition nearly left Indiana with an embarrassing end to arguably the darkest week in program history.

But on the brink of falling to the Big Ten's worst team, the Hoosiers prevailed thanks to a group of players who showed up when it counted, after being notable no-shows Friday.

Bassett, Jordan Crawford and senior captain D.J. White -- three of the six players who skipped Friday's practice -- combined for 61 points as Indiana nipped Northwestern 85-82 at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Dakich survived his debut and Indiana (23-4, 12-2 Big Ten) remained tied for first place in the conference.

"I don't think it's something you put behind you truly in 24, 48 hours," Dakich said. "Things take time. But this is a resilient group."

About 24 hours after Athletic Director Rick Greenspan announced that Sampson had accepted a $750,000 buyout to resign and not sue the school for wrongful termination, White limped off the court at Welsh-Ryan. The senior forward had helped seal the win with strong defense on Michael Thompson's drive and by sinking two free throws with 5.3 seconds left.

To check out Rittenberg's full column, click here.

Indiana squeaks out first win without Sampson

IBM Greatest Players: No. 11 Jerry Lucas