Thursday , Mar , 02 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Tigers set sights on outright C-USA crown at UAB

=== Tigers set sights on outright C-USA crown at UAB ===

(Sports Network) – The third-ranked Memphis Tigers have their sights set
on the outright Conference USA title this evening, as they go on the road
to battle the UAB Blazers in a key conference matchup from Bartow Arena. John
Calipari’s Tigers have already clinched at least a share of the league title
thanks to a perfect 12-0 conference ledger. The team brings a lengthy 15-
game win streak into this game and earned that share of the league crown
with a 78-67 win over Tulsa last weekend.

The Blazers are not out of the mix to share the conference championship
either, as they sit two games behind Memphis with two to play. UAB comes
into this contest with a four-game win streak in tow and has won six of
its last seven games to move to 20-5 on the season. Last weekend, the
team was able to get by SMU on the road, 73-68.

Memphis holds a comfortable 21-9 lead in the all-time series and has won four
of the last five meetings, overall. The Tigers are trying to complete a
regular-season sweep of the Blazers, after posting a 73-66 victory at
FedExForum on January 26th.

Freshman Shawne Williams was once again masterful in leading the Tigers to a
share of the conference title this past weekend against Tulsa. The 6-8
youngster erupted for 21 points, while grabbing eight rebounds in the victory.
Senior forward Rodney Carney had a strong outing as well, pouring in 20 points
and grabbing six rebounds. Darius Washington Jr. added 13 points in support
for Memphis, which shot a rather pedestrian .426 from the floor in the game.
As has been the case most of the season, Memphis won the battle on the
boards, 42-37.

The top rebounding team in Conference USA, Memphis boasts a +7.3 rebounding
margin. The team is also one of the most explosive offensive units in the
nation, averaging a robust 83.1 ppg. Carney is certainly the catalyst
offensively for this team, averaging 18.0 ppg. Washington has proved to be
both a capable scorer (13.8 ppg) and distributor (3.6 apg), while
Williams (13.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg) has come on as one of the nation’s premier
freshmen.

The Blazers got by a pesky SMU squad, thanks to the hot shooting of Marvett
McDonald. The 6-2 senior erupted for a career-high 39 points and hit a school
record-tying eight three-pointers in the game. McDonald was 12-of-21 from the
floor and 8-of-12 from long distance. Richard Jones came off the bench to add
10 points in support, but the game belonged to McDonald. The game was closer
than it had to be because UAB once again struggled on the boards (just 22
rebounds).

That is the one glaring weakness on this team in 2005-06, with the Blazer
ranking 12th in the conference in rebounding margin at -8.4.
Offensively however, this team has something going on. The Blazers are
averaging a healthy 76.1 ppg this year, led by McDonald’s 15.3 ppg. Wen Mukubu
is a valuable asset off the bench, chipping in with 10.0 ppg. Senior Squeaky
Johnson is an exciting player at the point for UAB, averaging 7.6 points, 2.9
rebounds and a whopping 6.3 assists per game.

UAB MEMPHIS