Vols, Tigers win to set up showdown

Thursday, February 21, 2008 at 12:22am

Okay, no more pretending that the big game isn’t the big game.

While the drums of hype have sounded all week about Saturday’s huge No. 1 Memphis vs. No. 2 Tennessee clash, both teams’ coaches worried about falling prey to Wednesday upsets.

It didn’t happen. No. 1 Memphis clobbered Tulane 97-71 and the Volunteers bashed Auburn 89-70 as both teams headed into Saturday’s showdown on a roll. The teams are now a combined 40-2 and Memphis is unbeaten at 26-0.

“It’s step up time now,” Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl told reporters after the game. “Everybody’s going to be challenged (against Memphis).”

Pearl pointed out that the crowd in Memphis should be rocking on Saturday.

“Memphis will be a great measuring stick for us Saturday,” Pearl said. “We have been in some difficult places, like Xavier and Kentucky, but Saturday will be the toughest environment we will face. Their talent level is so high. After I look at the film, we will have an idea of who has the deeper bench, Memphis or Tennessee.”

Tennessee’s Ramar Smith scored a season-high 19 points and Tyler Smith scored 13 points and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds for the Volunteers (24-2, 11-1 SEC) in their win.

Meanwhile, Memphis star Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 29 points in a mere 22 minutes in the Tigers’ win. Tigers freshman star Derrick Rose added 17 points, five assists and five rebounds.

Both teams made a little history on Wednesday on the way to the historic game as well. Memphis coach John Calipari won his 400th college game and Tennessee’s standout senior Chris Lofton became the seventh player in NCAA history to record 400 career three-pointers. Lofton also passed legendary UT star Bernard King to move into sixth on Tennessee’s all-time scoring list with 1,972 points.

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By: Tinsoldier on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The University of MEMPHIS will prevail Saturday night! Heading that way tomorrow night. GO TIGERS!!! GO!!!

By: cocheese on 12/31/69 at 6:00

ticket prices for this game are absurd! I don't think it really matters who wins, both will probably be #1 seeds next month. It will be a fun game to watch. i hope the cmaera crew does their stretches before the game cause it's going to be back and forth real fast! GO VOLS!!!!!

By: Anna3 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Tennessee Fans...Welcome to the "Alley" (The Fed Ex Forum)on Saturday...This game will be great! I don't think Tennessee has been into ANY place as hostile as this will be Saturday...and with 20,000 fans (95% of which won't be their fans). For the good of all basketball fans everywhere, this game should be moved to Nashville and made part of a four team Governors Cup tourney. Perhaps Memphis, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and another (on a rotating basis) state school should play. You couldn't get near the Sommet Center if this were to happen! May the best team win Saturday. Hopefully Coach Pearl will keep quiet and not antagonize the Tiger fans any more than necessary..winning this game is already next to impossible.

By: cocheese on 12/31/69 at 6:00

are you serious Anna? these guys play in the SEC in case you didn't know. everywhere they go is extremely hostile. i wouldn't be surprised if it's more like 50/50 with the fans. i do like that idea for a Governors Cup though.