No. 9 Memphis overcomes slow start, stomps Lamar

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Memphis coach John Calipari has never doubted sophomore point guard Darius Washington's impact as a team leader.

On Monday night, playing without Washington in a 108-83 victory over Lamar, it became painfully obvious.

With Washington out because of a deep thigh bruise, the ninth-ranked Tigers (4-1) struggled in the first half, committing 12 of their 21 turnovers.

Lamar took advantage of the mistakes and built a 10-point lead before the Tigers rallied in the closing minutes to go up 43-41 at halftime.

Memphis pulled away in the second half by dominating the boards and placing five players in double figures, led by Chris Douglas-Roberts with 23 points and 21 each from Shawne Williams and Rodney Carney.

Still, Calipari had a difficult time forgetting the sluggish beginning.

"Now everybody understands the importance of Darius Washington with this team," Calipari said. "It's his energy as much as anything else, his ability to get up and down the court and score baskets when we need some baskets to be scored."

The Tigers committed eight turnovers in the game's opening eight minutes. And while Washington's absence was a key factor in the sloppy play, Calipari said it wouldn't be fair to blame it all on the loss of one player.

"Twenty-one turnovers and we got beat to every ball again," Calipari said. "I'm just worried because it's not hitting home. We went after balls with one hand. They will run a [sprint drill in practice], which is a killer, for each one-handed catch they made. It's got to stop."

Douglas-Roberts, Carney and Williams combined to go 21-of-42 from the field for the Tigers, who shot 48.8 percent overall. Joey Dorsey had 13 rebounds, Robert Dozier 11 and Williams 10 as Memphis outrebounded Lamar 65-32.

"Memphis just whipped us on the boards, especially in the second half," Lamar coach Billy Tubbs said. "Memphis was getting a lot of second shots and they hit some 3s in the second half, but they really whipped us inside."

Memphis outrebounded Lamar 38-12 in the second half and finished with 30 offensive boards. The Tigers scored 60 points in the paint.

Washington, the team's leading scorer at 16.5 points per game, didn't play because of a deep thigh bruise that limited him in last week's NIT Season Tip-Off in New York. Memphis reached the tournament finals, losing to top-ranked Duke 70-67.

He is not expected to play Wednesday when the Tigers host Jackson State.

Memphis also played without reserve center Kareem Cooper, who was serving a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules. The 6-foot-11 Cooper was averaging 8.3 points.

Alan Daniels, a first-team Southland Conference selection last season, led Lamar (1-3) with 41 points. Daniels was 13-of-29 from the field, including 6-of-17 on 3-pointers, and made 9-of-11 free throws. Matthew Barrow added 15 points for Lamar.

In the second half, the Tigers went on an early 10-0 run to take a 59-49 lead and pulled away late in the game when Carney and Andre Allen powered a 14-0 run with 3-pointers.

Allen started the run with a 3 and less than two minutes later Carney hit consecutive 3s to give the Tigers a 92-65 lead. Allen, starting in place of Washington, finished with 10 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals.

On the strength of Memphis's showing in the NIT, the Tigers moved into the Top 10 for the first time since 1996.