Memphis and Kansas perform like themselves down the stretch in NCAA championship Print
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Monday, 07 April 2008 18:27
NCAAB Headline News


 SAN ANTONIO (AP) -Memphis had a nine-point lead with just over 2 minutes left in regulation, trying to win its first national championship. Things were going so well, the Tigers were even making their free throws.
Kansas had to find a way to erase that deficit. And what made that so difficult was the Jayhawks were having a horrible game from beyond the 3-point line, a place they usually shoot 40 percent.
Basketball, especially on the college level, has a way of finding its statistical level.
Those final 2 minutes and the overtime proved that again in the final game of the season as Kansas rallied for a 75-68 victory Monday night to win its third national championship, and first since 1988.
The talent was there all game as the stars of both teams lived up to their billing. Secondary players stepped up. The emotion was evident in a charged-up Alamodome. The defense was good on both sides.
The things that weren't right were Memphis' free-throw shooting and Kansas' ability to hit from behind the arc.
That all changed in the last 7 minutes of the season.
Memphis entered the NCAA tournament with just one loss, despite one of the worst free throw percentages in Division I. Even a successful run during the five wins that had the Tigers in their first title game since 1973 only brought the number up to 61.3 percent.
Kansas came into the game shooting 39.9 percent on 3s, a mark just behind the 10 teams that managed to hit 40 percent, and the Jayhawks were shooting 41 percent from there for the tournament.
When Memphis had a 60-51 lead with 2:12 left, the Tigers were 7-for-10 at the line. At that point, Kansas was 1-for-9 from 3-point range. There wasn't a lot of time left for those numbers to return to normal.
As it turned out, there was enough.
Sherron Collins hit a 3 after a steal on an inbounds pass following a Kansas basket and the Jayhawks were within 60-56.
Chris Douglas-Roberts made two free throws for Memphis with 1:39 to go, but the Tigers made one of five from the line the rest of the way. Mario Chalmers, the best of Kansas' long-range shooters at 47.3 percent from behind the arc, hit his second 3 of the game with 2.1 seconds left to tie it and force overtime.
Kansas didn't hit another 3 in the overtime, but for this one night, 3-for-12 was going to be enough since two came in that final 1:47 of regulation.
Memphis made both its free throws in the overtime to finish 12-for-19 for the game, but the Tigers just couldn't buy a big free throw during the final 75 seconds of regulation with Douglas-Roberts going 0-for-3 and freshman Derrick Rose making one of two.
 

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