MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Jeremy Williams scored 18 points and
grabbed 12 rebounds, Randy Culpepper added 13 points, including a
key steal and layup with a minute left, and UTEP beat Memphis 72-67
on Wednesday night, preventing the Tigers from setting an NCAA
record for consecutive conference wins.
The UTEP victory ended Memphis’ 64-game winning streak in
Conference USA, including postseason tournament games. The Tigers
had not lost a conference game in the regular season or postseason
since dropping an 80-74 decision at Alabama-Birmingham on March 2,
But UTEP (12-5, 3-1) built a second-half lead that reached seven
and held on to end the overall streak and also Memphis’
regular-season C-USA winning streak at 52 games.
Kentucky also won 64 consecutive conference games from 1945-50.
Memphis had a chance on a late possession to tie the game, but
turned the ball over with 4.3 seconds left. Christian Polk, who
finished with 17 points for the Miners, hit a pair of free throws
with 3.5 seconds left. Derrick Caracter scored 14 points for the
Elliot Williams led Memphis with 23 points, while Wesley
Witherspoon added 12 for the Tigers (13-5, 3-1).
UTEP coach Tony Barbee was an assistant coach under former
Memphis coach John Calipari when the streak started.
UTEP took the lead for good with 9:40 left when Polk connected
on a 3-pointer from the top of the key. From there, Memphis got
within a point – 65-64 with 3:30 left on a pair of free throws by
Witherspoon, but couldn’t catch the Miners.
The teams exchanged leads early in the first half, neither
building an advantage of more than four points until Memphis
created a slight lead with a trio of baskets, including 3-pointers
by Doneal Mack and Willie Kemp.
That run allowed Memphis to lead 34-31 at halftime, despite a
pair of 3-pointers from Polk in the final minutes.
Williams carried the Tigers in the half with 12 points. Caracter
gave UTEP an inside presence early, and Polk provided a closing
Memphis’ lead was built behind shooting 5 of 10 from outside the
arc. But UTEP countered with 10 points off Memphis turnovers and
outrebounding the Tigers 19-13.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)