If University of Memphis fans felt hung over after their football team's loss Friday night in the New Orleans Bowl, they didn't sound like it Saturday morning as the second-ranked men's basketball Tigers overwhelmed the number 5 Georgetown Hoyas in FedExForum with a little help from the sixth man.
The first top-5 college basketball match-up in the city's history excited and delighted the announced crowd of 18,864.
Georgetown players appeared unfazed by the huge, loud crowd early on. Hoyas senior forward Patrick Ewing Jr., was seen bopping his head along to the beat of the catchy U of M fight song as the Mighty Sound of the South thundered through a chorus during pre-game warm-ups.
Tigers head coach John Calipari enjoyed a laugh and a handshake with Georgetown coach John Thompson III. In game action, each team's style of play reflected their coachs sideline demeanor. The frenetic Calipari stomped, paced, and hollered at his squad from the Memphis bench, while Thompson gestured for his side to take it slow and remain calm.
The patient Hoyas picked the Tiger defense apart for first half leads as large as 8 points.
A specter of a Hoya upset seemed imminent at the 12:08 mark of the first half, when Tigers forward Joey Dorsey hit the bench with two quick personal fouls. While Dorsey smacked his gum on the sidelines, though, the Tigers stormed even with the Hoyas, and then pulled ahead 43-40 by halftime with a late flurry forwards Chris Douglass-Roberts and Robert Dozier.
The second half belonged to the Tigers as Douglas-Roberts put them ahead 54-46 with a breakaway slam-dunk at the 12:16 mark. Tiger athleticism kept the Hoyas at arm's length the rest of the way. Dorsey pulled down 11 second-half rebounds and scored 9 points, including a follow-up slam of an air ball at the shot clock buzzer with about 10 minutes to go.
The crowd poured it on the Hoyas throughout. The visitors appeared increasingly rattled as the volume and points escalated.
Calipari unleashed the Tigers full court press, and the Hoyas might have thought someone kicked a beehive with defenders flying across the floor and buzzing around the ball. Georgetowns All-American center Roy Hibbert finished with a mere six points as the Tigers swarmed and double-teamed the big man, forcing him into poor shots and awkward passes. Conversely, Calipari's killer D's, Derrick Rose, Dorsey, Douglas-Roberts, and Dozier all scored in double figures. The final score of 85-71 reflected more than a homecourt advantage. Thompson admitted after the game that, "you have to look at them as one of the best, if not the best team in the country because they can hurt you in so many ways."
At least for today, the Tigers are the toast of college basketball.