MEMPHIS - John Calipari tried to downplay the result, but his effort lasted all of one sentence. His Memphis basketball team, ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press poll, had just defeated No. 5 Georgetown, 85-71, yesterday at the FedEx Forum, and Calipari tried to defuse talk that the Tigers should advance directly to the Final Four.
"We scheduled a game on Dec. 22 because we're trying to learn about our team," Calipari said, playing the cautious card.
Then, in the next sentence, the former 76ers assistant coach couldn't contain himself.
"But if you win, it's a huge game."
At the least, it was a very big event. The sellout crowd of 18,864 had a decibel level almost as impressive as the Tigers' play.
And though it's still early in the season, this game showed two things: that Memphis is awfully talented and that Georgetown won't return to the Final Four if it doesn't master the art of foul shooting.
"Stating the obvious, we have a long way to go," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "I think on both ends of the floor, to be honest."
Memphis (10-0) received a game-high 24 points from 6-foot-7 junior Chris Douglas-Roberts, 19 points from 6-9 junior Robert Dozier, and 11 points and 13 rebounds from 6-9 senior Joey Dorsey.
Freshman point guard Derrick Rose, whose name invokes the words
, added 18 points and six assists.
Georgetown (8-1) received a team-high 14 points from reserve Austin Freeman. Hoyas 7-2 senior Roy Hibbert, who withdrew his name from the NBA draft after his junior year, finished with six points and six rebounds in 27 uneventful minutes.
Georgetown shot 12 for 23 from the free-throw line (52.1 percent), yet the Hoyas entered the game shooting 58 percent as a team, so yesterday's showing was not an aberration.
With seven minutes gone in the second half, Memphis held a 47-46 lead before Douglas-Roberts scored seven straight points - a jumper, a three-pointer and a dunk - increasing the Tigers' lead to 54-46.
Georgetown never recovered.
"Those seven straight points catapulted us. My teammates look for me to do that, honestly," said Douglas-Roberts, who had scored just nine points total in his previous two games.
And even though it's early, Memphis made a statement, one summed up best by Douglas-Roberts: "We're a scary team when our one through five players are contributing."
Even in December that holds true.