Missouri runs it up for win
Missouri, a team of energy and athleticism, rolled to a 102-91 victory over Memphis on Thursday night at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
“You wanted an up-tempo game?” Missouri Coach Mike Anderson said. “That was an up-tempo game.”
The third-seeded Tigers (31-6) will play top-seeded Connecticut (30-4) for a chance to reach their first Final Four. After a nail-biter over Marquette in the second round, Missouri outran Memphis, built a 24-point lead and held on late.
Asked what he would have thought before the season had someone told him Missouri would be playing for a chance to go to the Final Four, Anderson said, “I would have said, ‘What are you drinking and smoking?’ ”
J.T. Tiller scored 23 points and all five Missouri starters scored at least 13. DeMarre Carroll had 17 points and Leo Lyons 15.
“We kind of took the fight to Memphis early and before you knew it, our guys had a little bit of confidence,” Anderson said.
Tyreke Evans had 33 points for Memphis (33-4), which had won 27 games in a row.
“I told [the players] nothing can take away what you did,” Memphis Coach John Calipari said. “We didn’t lose for three months, but we kind of got punched in the mouth [by Missouri] from the start. They beat us at our own game.”
Memphis got to within six points with just more than two minutes left, but Missouri iced the victory with free throws.
Missouri and Connecticut have never played each other before.
Marcus Denman’s three-quarter-court heave at the end of the first half gave Missouri a 49-36 halftime edge and typified the night.
“Big momentum play,” Carroll said.
Missouri shot 53.2%. Memphis shot 50.7% but was only 18 for 32 on free throws.
Robert Dozier had 19 points and 16 rebounds for Memphis. Antonio Anderson had 18 points. Memphis was only three for 15 on three-pointers.
Memphis, which last lost Dec. 20 to Syracuse, led by four midway through the first half. Missouri then took over.
“That was exciting basketball,” Anderson said. “We’re having fun.”