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Memphis opens early lead, cruises to win against SMU

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)-- Memphis coach John Calipari is working hard
to keep his team focused no matter what the score.

Joey Dorsey scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds and the
fifth-ranked Tigers got off to a strong start in a 73-53 win over
SMU on Saturday night. Memphis opened the game with an 18-2 run and
never let the advantage get under 10 the rest of the way.

"It's very hard," said Rodney Carney, who led the Tigers with
15 points. "You see the score and you want to slack up. But you
can't because Cal is on the sideline getting after you. He wants
the intensity up at all times. I can see why, but it's pretty hard
to stay focused."

Memphis (15-2, 2-0 Conference USA) won its fourth straight since
losing to Texas (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today; No. 8 AP) 69-58 on Jan. 2.

Carney connected on 6-of-9 from the field, and Memphis shot 51
percent. Dorsey hit five of seven shots, and Darius Washington
added 13 points and four assists.

Despite the shooting performance and handing the Mustangs (7-7,
0-2) their worst loss of the season, Calipari wasn't overly excited
with his team's intensity.

"The first half we missed 14 two-footers," Calipari said. "At
some point, we've got to make those shots. In the second half we
made them, but you've got to make the ones that are near the
basket. You can't miss them all."

Bryan Hopkins went 7-of-12 from the field and finished with 19
points for the Mustangs, who shot 37 percent and committed 15
turnovers.

"Other kids were taking shots, they were just not making
them," SMU coach Jimmy Tubbs said.

After SMU scored the game's first basket, Memphis reeled off 18
straight points. During the run, the Mustangs missed 10 straight
shots and went almost nine minutes without scoring. SMU, which lost
its third straight, also had six early turnovers.

"I thought we were a little bit jittery the first five or six
minutes, but Memphis had a lot to do with that," Tubbs said.
"Once we settled down, we did OK."

The Mustangs whittled the Tigers lead to 10 with six minutes
left in the half, but Memphis carried a 33-22 lead into the break.

Hopkins led SMU with 10 points in the first half.

The Mustangs tried to battle back in the second half but they
couldn't whittle the lead down to single digits. Washington
connected on a 3-pointer with about 8 minutes left to give the
Tigers a 54-37 lead.

The margin could be indicative of many games the rest of the
season for Memphis. The Tigers are considered C-USA's best team.
After playing ranked teams such as top-ranked Duke, Texas, Gonzaga
and UCLA earlier this season, even the Tigers realize they may have
to ignore the score to maintain the intensity.

"It's hard to block out the scoreboard," Memphis guard Chris
Douglas-Roberts said, "but that's what we've got to do. We have to
play like it's tied up even if we're up 30.

"... Sometimes we started paying attention to how much we were
up, and then we started playing that way instead of just keep
playing as if it is tied up or is a real competitive team."