Tigers' press flattens Bison

Getting Bucknell out of sync puts Memphis in round of 16 for first time since '95

Memphis 72 Bucknell 56

Oakland Regional

Ncaa Tournament

March 20, 2006|By ALAN SCHMADTKE | ALAN SCHMADTKE,ORLANDO SENTINEL

DALLAS -- Take whatever message you want from Memphis after two games in the NCAA tournament, because the Tigers care only that you understand this: They're still playing, and they like the way they're doing it.

The Tigers reached the regional semifinals with yesterday's 72-56 handling of Bucknell at American Airlines Center, a triumph that provided ever more evidence why they deserved the No. 1 seed in the Oakland Regional.

Up next is Missouri Valley upstart Bradley on Thursday at the Arena in Oakland.

"The best part of this so far? We won," said Darius Washington of the Tigers' Texas two-step. "Today we wanted to put on the pressure and make them play our game, and we did that."

The Tigers (32-3) reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1995 with a dominating blend of offensive balance and sense and defensive intensity. Antonio Anderson led them with 13 points, but six other Tigers scored at least eight.

Memphis held Bucknell to a season-low 15 field goals, sending the Bison (27-5) home after a second-round loss for the second year in a row.

Memphis' full-court presses - man-to-man early, zone later - wreaked the most havoc on the Patriot League champions.

The Tigers fell behind 10-4 on Kevin Bettencourt's three-pointer 4:18 into the game, but that might have been Bucknell's final highlight.

Over the next 13 minutes, Memphis parlayed 11 turnovers into a decisive 27-5 spurt.

"It was a great defensive effort," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "This game, the rest of the games, we've just got to make the game hard for the other team. We did that today."

The press was not as effective in creating turnovers directly as it was in getting Bucknell out of its comfortably methodical pace. The Bison got the ball past halfcourt but then couldn't slow down. The times they did, Memphis put bodies on bodies, stuck hands in passing lanes and rattled Bucknell into continuous mistakes.

"I've never really seen us not be able to get into our offense, and that's what they did," Charles Lee said.

Bucknell had 12 turnovers by halftime, 19 overall.

Alan Schmadtke writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

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