That didn't stop them from shutting him down when it mattered
Darius Washington scored 22 points and had 10 assists, and the
Tigers held the nation's leading scorer without a point in the
final 9:31 in holding off No. 8 Gonzaga 83-72 on Tuesday night.
Memphis coach John Calipari said Morrison knew he could score
with Tigers senior forward Rodney Carney guarding him in the post.
So he asked freshman Shawne Williams to guard Morrison despite
having three fouls.
"I said, `Look man, if we don't stop him right now, we are not
winning this game because he will go nuts,' and Shawne Williams
went in and stopped him," Calipari said.
Williams also had help from Chris Douglas-Roberts, Robert Dozier
and Antonio Anderson in slowing down Morrison. It worked because
the preseason All-American didn't score again after his basket put
Gonzaga up 62-59 with 9:31 left.
Morrison said the Tigers collapsed on him and denied him good
looks at the basket. He also had his left thumb wrapped with tape
that wound around his wrist after jamming his finger in last week's
victory over Saint Louis, but he refused to use that as an excuse.
"I missed too many 8-footers in the lane, but part of it was
Memphis' defense," Morrison said.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few said reporters focus too much on
"He plays great all the time. He's got guys draped all over
him, and he still passes and shares the ball. We had opportunities.
We had point-blank post-ups we missed and wide open jump shots that
we missed," he said.
With the victory, Memphis (10-1) continued its best start since
1985-86, winning its seventh straight in the first game between a
pair of Top 10 teams involving the Tigers in Memphis since 1985-86.
The Tigers are the only ranked team in the revamped Conference
USA, a distinction Gonzaga (9-3) holds in the West Coast
Conference. Memphis will host No. 15 Texas on Monday.
Memphis snapped Gonzaga's five-game winning streak even though
Morrison finished with 34 points, including a perfect 12-of-12 at
the free throw line. It was the Bulldogs' worst loss since Nov. 27,
2004, when they lost 89-72 at Illinois.
Rodney Carney had 17 points for Memphis and Shawne Williams
added 14 points and 11 rebounds. The Tigers outshot Gonzaga
31-of-63 (49.2 percent) to 22-of-64 (34.4 percent).
"They've got a lot of answers, a lot of athleticism, a lot of
skill and they can hurt you in so many ways," Few said of the
Tigers. "We battled hard. We just didn't quite battle for a full
Memphis, feeding off the emotion from a crowd of 18,208, took
the lead with an 8-2 run that was capped on Chris Douglas-Roberts'
three-point play with 7:25 left. It gave Memphis a 63-62 advantage,
the Tigers first since 1:10 was left in the first half.
Gonzaga last led 67-66 on a bucket inside by J.P. Batista with
5:13 to go. He was the only other Bulldog in double figures,
finishing with 15 points and eight rebounds.
The Tigers outscored Gonzaga 17-5 down the stretch with
Washington scoring nine of the final 12 points in the last 3:18.
Washington had missed the last game with a deep thigh bruise that
has bothered him for weeks.
The Tigers opened up sprinting up and down the court, and
Gonzaga was more than willing to keep pace in a physical game.
Gonzaga missed its first seven shots, while the Tigers seemingly
couldn't miss despite not having played in a week. But Gonzaga led
40-35 at halftime as the Bulldogs hit 14-of-17 at the free throw
line, compared to 0-of-2 for Memphis.
The Tigers jumped out to a 13-5 lead after a pair of buckets
from Washington and harassed Gonzaga into missing its first seven
shots. Morrison sunk a pair of free throws, but the Bulldogs didn't
score from the floor until Derek Raivio hit a 3-pointer with 15:35
Morrison scored his first bucket on a hook shot, starting a 6-0
spurt that got the Bulldogs going.
"That was a heck of a game," Calipari said. "I told their
coach, `Let's hope we are playing in April. Let's hope we are the
last two standing."