For a two-minute stretch Wednesday night against Tulsa, the
Tigers' top scorer showed off an entirely different skill set than
the two player of the year candidates.
Carney, a 6-foot-7 senior, scored 12 of his 19 points during an
impressive first-half run and Darius Washington Jr. added 22 points
as third-ranked Memphis streaked to an 84-61 win.
"I know J.J. Redick is good and I know Morrison is good, but
you've got to have him in the same breath," Calipari said.
"Neither one of those two are athletic like him. He shoots the
ball the same as they do. His numbers are the same for his
Carney scored 12 straight Memphis points -- including three dunks
-- during a 19-2 run that put the Tigers (20-2, 6-0 Conference USA)
on their way to their ninth straight win.
Memphis extended its lead with a 9-0 run early in the second
half that included a Carney three-point play. Shawne Williams hit
two free throws to give the Tigers a 60-41 lead, and Tulsa (7-12,
2-4) never threatened again.
Washington sparked the first-half run with a fast-break layup to
give Memphis a 19-18 lead and Andre Allen followed with a layup of
his own off a back cut.
Then Carney took over. He scored in the lane and hit a 3-pointer
from the left wing before setting off on a one-man slam dunk
Allen set up two of the dunks by stealing inbounds passes and
lobbing the ball. Carney took the first one out of mid-air and
slammed it down with two hands. On the second, Allen used the
backboard to for a little extra flair.
"That's what I do for the team. I make fast-break dunks,
highlight dunks, block shots. I use my energy for the team and they
feed off it," said Carney, who's averaging 18.2 points. "As soon
as I did that, we went on a little run."
Carney then took matters into his own hands, stealing the ball
at midcourt before skying to power the ball home with his right
hand. Washington followed with a 3-pointer from the left side to
put the Tigers ahead 36-20.
Carney also was fouled on another dunk try in the stretch and
the ball slipped out of his hands on his way to the rim on yet
another attempt later in the half.
"I'm athletic. I can shoot 3s, but still I'm athletic," Carney
said. "I've got to go get rebounds, I've got to go dunk. They
don't have to. They shoot. We're all three different players."
The steals were three of 19 first-half turnovers forced by
Memphis, allowing the Tigers to lead 43-34 at halftime despite
allowing Tulsa to shoot 59 percent.
"I didn't see a guy taking them off the dribble and popping off
the floor shooting it from 3. I saw turnovers and flying to the
hoop," Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik said of Carney. "I give him
credit. I've said this before. He's not a good athlete, he's not a
great athlete, he's a world-class athlete.
"With the way he shoots the basketball and the range he has on
his shot, he is an NBA prospect. It was impressive. I wasn't
impressed because my guys were turning it over."
Hosting the highest-ranked opponent ever to play in the
seven-year-old Reynolds Center, Tulsa responded to an early
seven-point deficit with a 14-2 run capped when McDade stole the
ball and set up Darold Crow for a fast-break layup giving the
Golden Hurricane a 16-11 edge.
But Memphis pushed back ahead by holding the Golden Hurricane
without a field goal for more than 6 minutes while Carney took to
Calipari admitted that Carney is not as good as Redick and
Morrison with the ball, but noted that Carney excels when he's
playing aggressive defense and pointed out that he shut out Redick
in the second half of Duke's 70-67 win against Memphis on Nov. 25.
"At the end of the day, let's see where he gets picked in the
draft. Let's see where he gets picked," Calipari said. "I think
he'll be picked very high ... He sells a lot of tennis shoes and
he'll sell a lot of tickets."