Tigers Can't Back Dorsey's Talk

Saturday, March 24th 2007, 8:59 pm
By: News On 6

SAN ANTONIO (AP) _ Joey Dorsey talked a really good game about how he was going to outplay Greg Oden. It was nothing but talk.

Dorsey didn't score as Memphis lost in an NCAA regional final for the second straight year, this time a 92-76 loss to top-seeded Ohio State and Oden on Saturday.

A day after Dorsey referred to himself as Goliath and the Buckeyes' 7-foot freshman center as ``the little man,'' the 6'9 Memphis center played only 19 minutes and was called for 4-fouls. He was held scoreless for the first time this season, not even credited with a shot. His only 3-rebounds came before halftime _ 2-of them in the first 6 minutes.

``I thought we'd have a little better matchup inside,'' coach John Calipari said, without mentioning names. ``I thought it would be more competitive.''

But it was obvious who the coach was talking about.

While Dorsey was basically a non-factor, Oden _ who also finished with 4-fouls _ had 17 points and 9-rebounds in 24 minutes.

``I tried to contain him,'' Dorsey said. ``I didn't know he was that strong. I tried to keep a body on him every time he tried to make his move. He just came with a counter.''

After winning 25 straight games, the Tigers (33-4) couldn't get the victory they really wanted: the one that would have gotten them to the Final Four for the first time since 1985.

``It's very difficult for us. We had high expectations,'' said Jeremy Hunt, the lone Tigers senior. ``We ran against a team, I guess, they're better than us.''

Memphis failed to maintain the momentum of a 10-point swing midway through the 2nd half that pushed the Tigers ahead while Oden was out of the game.

Oden got called for his third foul, a play away from the ball with 17:21 left and Ohio State leading 47-42. He came out of the game and Memphis started going inside, surging ahead 56-51 during the 4:42 Oden sat on the bench.

But when Oden returned, he leaped high in the air to block Willie Kemp's shot and the Tigers were about to be done.

``Wow, I didn't know he was that big,'' Hunt said. ``He's one of those Bill Russell-type players, when you go to the hole, you've always got to watch for him.''

Oden was open under the basket when Chris Douglas-Roberts grabbed him to try to prevent a score with 9:43 left. The ball still went in, an intentional foul was called and Oden hit his first free throw to tie it at 60.

Calipari ``didn't really see'' the play, but said he hopes the officials were right since ``it took the wind our of our sails.''

Antonio Anderson certainly thinks the refs blew the call.

``Chris went for the ball and grabbed him a little bit. And (the refs) knew that and just blew it out of proportion,'' Anderson said. ``It was huge. That was it.''

Jamar Butler was fouled in the scramble for the missed second free throw, and hit both of his. That started a stretch of 20 straight free throws the Buckeyes made to put the game away.

When Dorsey went for a slam dunk with 4:15 left, he was fouled hard by Oden. And he missed both free throws, barely hitting the rim on one of them.

``I was disappointed in myself. I think this is the worst game of my career, right here,'' said Dorsey, a 6'9 junior. ``I was so tired defending (Oden) on defense that I wasn't able to help my team on the offensive end.''

While Memphis has only one senior, there will be questions about Calipari's future. Kentucky is looking for a coach and Calipari's name is already being mentioned.

Hunt, the Tigers' sixth man, had a game-high 26 points. Hunt had 16 points by halftime, only one fewer than the five starters combined.

Anderson had 8 of his 10 points after halftime, when he played with 15 stitches above his eye after being elbowed by teammate Robert Dozier late in the 1st half.

Memphis was a No. 1 seed last season when it advanced to a regional final before losing to UCLA on a court in California. The Tigers got to this final with 65-64 victory Thursday night over Texas A&M, when the Alamodome was filled mostly with maroon-clad fans. This time, it was that small contingency of fans in blue behind the Memphis bench _ including former Tigers star Penny Hardaway _ who left disappointed.