Kansas rushes into NCAA championship matchup against Memphis Print
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Saturday, 05 April 2008 18:12
NCAAB Headline News


 SAN ANTONIO (AP) -Memphis and its up-tempo offense vs. Kansas and its shutdown defense.
O vs. D - the most classic confrontation in sports, and this time for the NCAA championship Monday night.
``It's going to be a great matchup,'' Kansas guard Sherron Collins said Saturday night after an 84-66 win over North Carolina. ``They play fast, we play fast, play aggressive.''
The Jayhawks (36-3) will try to win their third national title, and first since Danny Manning led them in 1988. A glamour program that boasts the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Kansas traces its hardwood history back to its first coach, James Naismith - the man who invented basketball.
Memphis (38-1) lost its only previous championship game, in 1973 to UCLA and Bill Walton. Back then, when Elvis was still king, the school was called Memphis State. This week, Presley's Graceland mansion was lit up in Tiger blue.
There's not much history between these top-seeded teams, and they haven't played since Kansas beat Memphis in December 1987. Either way, either the Big 12 or Conference USA will win its first title.
And this much is certain: One coach is going to be a champion for the first time.
``Sounds pretty good, sounds really good,'' Kansas' Bill Self said.
In the Final Four for the first time, Self saw his Jayhawks stop North Carolina. Quite a show, considering Kansas was a long 3-pointer away from losing to Davidson in the regional final.
Whether it was revenge or just a really good day, the Jayhawks played a perfect game in the opening half against former Kansas coach Roy Williams' Tar Heels.
Kansas led 40-12, and frustrated North Carolina finished the first half with more turnovers (10) than field goals (9). The Tar Heels rallied within 58-53 before falling short.
At 6-foot-11, senior Sasha Kaun and freshman Cole Aldrich clogged the middle for Kansas. They well could pose Memphis' biggest challenge - then again, Derrick Rose, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Memphis run John Calipari's ``dribble drive motion'' system without a man in the middle.
Memphis looked unstoppable in a 78-63 semifinal romp over UCLA. The Tigers have not trailed in the second half of any of their five games in this tournament, winning by an average of 16 points.
The victory gave them the single-season record for most wins in major college basketball.
``My team's like, 'Is it? That's the most wins?''' Calipari said. ``And then I told them, 'No, no. You've got to get to 39 to have the most wins.' Hopefully we'll have one more in us.''
Rose came up with all sorts of moves - spins, scoops, switching hands on shots - and had 25 points and nine rebounds. A third team All-American as a freshman, he'll likely play his final game in college at Alamodome before going to the NBA.
Douglas-Roberts, a first-time All-American, led Memphis with 28 points and combined with Rose to expertly run Calipari's system.
The Tigers operate without a man in the middle when they have the ball, even though 6-foot-9 senior Joey Dorsey could fill the lane. Instead, they let Rose drive and either improvise or pass to a shooter on the perimeter.
``We need a couple of guys to play a little bit better, but the reality of it is I've got a good team,'' Calipari said.
 

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