Monday, March 31, 2008

LONGHORN: THE OTHER RED MEAT

Driving, dishing and dunking, going above the rim for rebounds and flying around to block shots, Derrick Rose led the Memphis Tigers (37-1) past Texas 85-67 Sunday for its first trip to the Final Four since 1985.

The Tigers tied the NCAA Division I record for wins in a season(37), with their only loss coming to a team ranked No. 2 at the time. They've been first, second or third in the poll all season. And to all the people who keep saying they'd be the first No. 1 seed to lose, leading scorer Chris Douglas-Roberts says, "See you in San Antonio."

Memphis will play UCLA and its freshman phenom, Kevin Love. The Tigers and Bruins have a nice little history, having met in a regional final two years ago and in the 1973 title game.

Memphis has only been back to the Final Four once, with Keith Lee leading the way in 1985. But that trip was vacated according to the NCAA record book because of rules violations. Ditto for the only other time John Calipari coached a team to the Final Four, UMass in 1996. So, even if they do win it all, Vegas says it won't hold up to NCAA scrutiny. Bummer.

This March, Memphis has treated the NCAA field like it a continuation of Conference USA play. This 18-point finish was the second-closest final margin.

The Tigers were a win away from the final weekend of the NCAA tournament each of the last two years, but couldn't get over the hump.

The Longhorns’ D.J. Augustin scored 16 points, but was 4-of-18 and had more turnovers (four) than assists (three). Memphis' size, speed and athleticism kept Texas (31-7) from ever getting into a groove.

Robert Dozier #2 of the Memphis Tigers puts up a shot against Justin Mason #24 of the Texas Longhorns during the fourth round game of the South Regional as part of 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Derrick Rose #23 of the Memphis Tigers lays up a shot past Damion James #5 of the Texas Longhorns during the fourth round game of the South Regional. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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