(AP) John Calipari knows opponents will try to frustrate Memphis with every junk defense possible, working to slow down games and hoping the Tigers can't shoot.
Well, his second-ranked Tigers are showing they can win that way, too.
Joey Dorsey , Robert Dozier and Shawn Taggart scored 11 points apiece, and the second-ranked Tigers shook off the rust from an 11-day break by beating Middle Tennessee 65-41 Saturday night in the opening game of the Sun Belt Classic doubleheader.
The Memphis coach complimented Middle Tennessee's effort.
"They did what a lot of teams are trying to do to us, which is pack it in, junk it up, hold the ball, try to make shots at the buzzer, try to keep it close, try to get fouled," Calipari said. "And you know, the only thing I keep telling my team is we have to see if they can do that for 40 minutes. Let's make it very difficult.''
With the victory, the Tigers improved to 8-0 and matched their best start since the 1995-96 season and their fourth such start since World War II.
Memphis had not played since holding off Southern California 62-58 in overtime on Dec. 4 in New York. The Tigers needed someone to play before visiting Cincinnati and hosting No. 5 Georgetown on Dec. 22 back in Memphis.
Middle Tennessee (3-6) offered the perfect opponent and allowed the Tigers to fulfill the third and final game of their contract without having to visit Murfreesboro, approximately 30 miles southeast of Nashville.
The Tigers outshot (49 percent to 27) and outrebounded (38-30) Middle Tennessee in a game they never trailed and was tied only once at 16. Dorsey also had a team-high 12 rebounds.