MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Memphis is using the Conference USA
tournament to get even with teams that beat it in a recent losing
streak. Keeping the run going is also the Tigers' only hope of
reaching the NCAA Tournament.
So far, so good.
Rodney Carney scored 20 points, and Memphis continued its
winning streak with an 83-69 upset of Charlotte (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today; No. 25 AP) in the
quarterfinals Thursday night.
Memphis (18-14), the tournament's No. 7 seed, won for the second
straight night after a season-ending four-game skid. St. Louis,
Memphis' first victim in the tournament was one of the losses
during that stretch, and Charlotte was another.
"We played ourselves into this hole, so we've just got to do
what we've got to do to get out," said Memphis center Arthur
Barclay, who led a strong rebounding effort with 10 boards,
including eight on the offensive end.
"If we continue to have the effort we've had the last two
nights and play our game, we'll be fine."
The Tigers play South Florida after the Bulls upset No. 21
Cincinnati 80-68 in the late game Thursday.
"There was no revenge," Memphis coach John Calipari said.
"It's not us against the world. I'm just trying to get my team to
Memphis used strong rebounding and benefited from a poor
shooting night for second-seeded Charlotte (21-7). The Tigers
outrebounded the 49ers 45-33, including 22 on the offensive end
that led to 28 second-chance points.
Charlotte shot just 35 percent, including hitting only 8 of 32
shots in the second half. Curtis Withers led the 49ers with 32
points, while C-USA player of the year Eddie Basden scored 13.
Withers had the highest scoring total by a Charlotte player in
"I know Withers went crazy in the first half and had an
unbelievable night," Calipari said. "My point of it was so he
gets 40, and we win. Who cares? You can't go leaving (3-point
specialist Brendan) Plavich. You can't go leaving Basden."
Plavich was held to 3 points on 1-of-10 shooting, all outside
Memphis opened the biggest lead of the game with an early 8-2
run in the second half as Charlotte missed eight of its first nine
shots. The Tigers eventually would extend it to 52-42 on a pair of
free throws by Darius Washington just before the 12-minute mark.
"Obviously, our failure to rebound the basketball was
critical," Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz said. "I thought we
actually defended well enough if we could have rebounded and not
given them second and third chances.
Memphis continued to extend the lead midway through the half,
before Lutz got called for a technical with 8:56 left. Carney's two
free throws gave Memphis a 63-45 lead.
The Tigers extended their lead to 20 on Rice's 3-pointer with
7:53 left. Charlotte never got closer than 12 in the closing
Memphis led 39-37 after an intense first half that saw 16 lead
changes and five ties.
Withers dominated inside during the half, hitting 8 of his 12
shots for 20 points. Meanwhile, Carney continued to come out of a
late-season shooting slump, scoring 13 points.
Both teams played tough defense, hustling after loose balls and
banging on the boards. The second-half start by Charlotte and the
Tigers' rebounding advantage spelled the difference.
Memphis realizes it must run the table for an NCAA invite. But
Calipari said, it's not like his team has played bad, even during
the four-game losing slide with three coming to ranked teams.
"I've got a good team. We've all got to figure out how we get
these guys in the NCAA Tournament because I'm telling you this will
be the best team I've ever had in the NCAA Tournament if I can get
them there," Calipari said.
Charlotte, which has now lost three straight, all on the road,
must hope this season-ending skid doesn't cost its chance. Two of
those were senior nights at Louisville and South Florida, then
Thursday's tournament loss.
"Hopefully, we'll get a bid," Lutz said. "We should. It's out
of our hands now, but I think we've earned it despite these three