MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—Memphis keeps showing how much better they are than the rest of Conference USA. Now, the eighth-ranked Tigers are starting to get even more comfortable in the role.
Robert Dozier and Willie Kemp each scored 13 points to lead a balanced offense, and Memphis beat Tulane 95-51 on Saturday night for its 27th consecutive victory at home.
“We’re getting better from three weeks ago,” said guard Doneal Mack, who scored nine points. Everybody’s in a comfort zone. Everybody is getting the hang of each other. Everybody’s in a groove. Right now, we’ve got a little swagger, and we don’t want that to turn into arrogance.”
Memphis (21-3, 11-0) was never threatened in its 13th straight win overall. The Tigers used a 13-0 run midway through the first half to pull away.
The Green Wave (11-11, 4-6) were hampered by poor shooting and sloppy ball-handling.
Five Memphis players finished in double figures. Tre’Von Willis and Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 12 points each, while Jeremy Hunt added 11. Dozier, who was 4-for-7 from the field, also had seven rebounds.
Willis’ points were a season high, and his 18 minutes were the most of the year partly because of foul trouble among the Tiger starters, but more because of his recent work ethic.
Memphis coach John Calipari said Willis has worked harder in practice and deserved more court time.
“I feel real confident, ” the freshman guard said. “I feel we have the greatest guards on our team in the nation. If I can play against these guys every day, I feel like I can play against any guard or any team.”
Even when Memphis emptied its bench and Calipari sent the reserves in to play zone during the final four minutes, he was pleased with the effort.
“The biggest thing is they like each other now,” Calipari said. “As long as they like each other, they are going to want this to continue.”
Chris Moore was the only Tulane player in double figures with 10 points. Leading-scorer David Gomez was limited to six, taking only two shots. Kevin Sims, Tulane’s second-leading scorer, was scoreless, missing all seven shots from the field.
“It’s our 21st game of the year,” Tulane coach Dave Dickerson said. “You would think that our two leading scorers would come out and play with a mentality of being the leading scorers on the team. I’m a little surprised they didn’t do it.”
Tulane shot only 31 percent and committed 21 turnovers that led to 32 Memphis points. The Green Wave came into the game having won three of their last four, and the trio of victories came by an average margin of 20 points.
“We were playing our best basketball before this game,” Dickerson said. “We were averaging 81 points per game and still had one of the best defenses in the conference. We thought we could come in here and compete. We ran into a team that was better and had better players.”
Memphis led 51-29 at the break, matching its biggest lead of the half with a pair of baskets in the final five seconds.
The Tigers pulled away in the first half behind 3-point shooting and their 13-0 run midway through the period. Hunt started the streak with six straight points, and Willis had four points as Tulane went almost four minutes without scoring.
When Douglas-Roberts hit a free throw with 8:23 left in the half, Memphis had run the advantage to 35-15.
Tulane went to a zone to try and slow the Tigers’ offense, but Memphis hit half of its 10 shots outside the arc to offset the zone. Memphis finished the night 9-for-17 from 3-point range.
Meanwhile, the Memphis defense forced 11 Green Wave turnovers in the half, and Tulane shot 38 percent from the field.
The Tigers extended the lead with a 10-1 run to open the second half, capped by a reverse dunk from Joey Dorsey on an alley-oop pass.
Memphis’ 19-3 spurt produced a 70-32 cushion midway through the second half.
“We just couldn’t get anything going offensively to where I thought we were comfortable enough with our team to where we could score,” Dickerson said.