MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—Rodney Carney says No. 12 Memphis is ready for anything this season.
Carney and Shawne Williams scored 17 points apiece to lead the No. 12 Tigers to a 79-52 victory over Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Tuesday night in the first round of the Preseason NIT.
“(We’ve got) the whole package,” Carney said. “We’re so talented. We can get a lot of shots out there that we need. Post-ups, 3-point shots, drives whatever. Now, that this team has come together, we’re going to be a great team, I think.”
Darius Washington added 16 points, and Kareem Cooper had 14 for the Tigers, who held the Panthers to 22-percent shooting and had 11 blocks.
“I thought we were aggressive, and we got it into the right areas, but defensively, they were a little longer than some of our guys were used to shooting over,” said first-year Panther coach Rob Jeter. “And it was difficult for us to make those shots.”
Memphis (1-0) will play No. 15 Alabama in the second round Thursday night. The Crimson Tide beat Miami (Ohio) 64-58 on Tuesday night.
Joah Tucker led Wisconsin-Milwaukee (0-1) with 23 points.
“Obviously, it is not going to be this easy all the time,” Memphis coach John Calipari said. “We gave up 23 points to Joah Tucker, and he can really play. I just want you to know this team (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) that you saw, by the end of the season, is going to have 24 or 25 wins.”
Wisconsin-Milwaukee closed to eight points on Avery Smith’s drive with 14:33 left, but Memphis answered with a 21-6 run to make it 63-40. Carney had 11 points in the stretch, including three 3-pointers, while Williams added six points.
“We were down and we fought our way back, and it took a lot of energy to do that,” Jeter said. “Then we settled for some outside shots.”
Memphis built a 19-point lead in the first half before taking a 40-28 advantage at the break behind 12 points from Washington, who was 4-of-5 from the field, and 11 from Williams.
At one point, Wisconsin-Milwaukee went more than six minutes without scoring in the first half and only had three shots during the stretch. Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s final 11 points of the half came from the foul line.
Tucker scored 14 points before halftime.
“I saw a lot of good stuff,” Calipari said. “Our execution isn’t where it needs to be, and I’m going to guess we missed nine layups. We scored two points in the first six minutes of the second half. Short of that, they are trying to do what I’m asking them to do.”