Memphis Rides Kemp, Mack to Win Over Arkansas State

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Memphis coach John Calipari was so annoyed with the No. 3 Tigers that he cut their Thanksgiving holiday in half.

Willie Kemp had a career-high 22 points and Doneal Mack added 19 to help the Tigers beat Arkansas State 84-63 on Tuesday night.

Calipari was upset almost from the start. And when it was over, instead of giving his team two days off, they will practice Wednesday, ruining some plans for traveling home for the holiday.

"If you watched that game, you've got to be upset," Calipari said. "... It's obvious where we are right now. We've got some work to do. Obviously, if I think they need to practice -- and that's what I think -- that's what we are going to do."

Chris Douglas-Roberts added 16 points for Memphis (5-0), which has won all of its games by double-digit margins.

Adrian Banks had 32 points to lead the Indians (0-3). The 6-foot-3 senior guard finished the game shooting 12-for-20 from the field. No other Indians player was in double figures.

"I'm really proud of that locker room," Arkansas State coach Dickie Nutt said. "Our guys played outstanding. I thought Adrian Banks was at least one of the best players on the floor."

That from the coach whose team lost by 21. The winning coach was still steaming more than a half hour after the final horn.

"We had a couple of guys just kind of walk through the game," Calipari said, later adding: "Thank goodness (Kemp) shot the ball like he did. That (Mack) shot the ball like he did. If those guys don't shoot the ball, it's a four-point game."

The Tigers, playing their first game after winning the 2K Sports College Hoops Challenge tournament, at times looked sloppy, although they were never really threatened in the second half.

Each time the Indians made a run that seemed like they might get the deficit to a manageable number, Kemp connected from long range, including back-to-back 3-pointers with about 9 minutes left to build the Memphis advantage to 64-42.

"I knew coach was kind of upset because we were not winning by that big of a margin, and our defense wasn't clicking," Kemp said. "(Calipari) always says when the bench comes in, he wants the intensity raised, and that's what we did."

Memphis freshman Derrick Rose struggled through the toughest night of his young collegiate career, scoring only four points, the first game in which he has not reached double figures. While he missed five of his seven shots from the field, he did have six rebounds and five assists.

Memphis shot 55 percent for the game, while Arkansas State was at 47 percent.

The Tigers led 43-25 at the half after their 3-point shooting overcame early intensity problems.

Kemp came off the bench for 14 first-half points, hitting 5-for-6 from the floor, including all but one of his five shots outside the arc as Memphis shot 50 percent from long range.

But it didn't start that way. Calipari had seen enough of his starters and their lackadaisical play within the first 5 minutes. He sent a full complement of reserves to the scorer's table with the Indians holding an early lead.

The change resulted not only in more pressure by Memphis, but a 12-2 run to erase the Indians lead. Little by little, the starters returned with a bit more intensity, and after Kemp connected on a trio of consecutive 3-pointers, Memphis was up 31-15. Nutt said it shows the Tigers' depth and talent.

"We can just envy that when you bring in five guys that would probably be at the top of our league," the Indians coach said, adding his praise for how Calipari has spread the minutes around to his players.

But the Memphis coach said it was easy to get more minutes for reserves Tuesday night because he was disappointed with the play of several others. Frontline starters Shawn Taggart and Joey Dorsey played 16 and 20 minutes respectively. Calipari said his team needs to realize that every opponent this season will be trying to play their best against the Tigers, and a loss in those situations can drastically hurt Memphis' post season seeding.

"We have to worry about getting better every day," Calipari said. "Did we get better today? Did we do anything to improve ourselves? No. We didn't. We went way down the wrong way.

"It's so dangerous these kinds of games, if that's your habit. I've got to let them know that's not acceptable."


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