By Bryan Jeon
Memphis obviously didn’t play a perfect game, but they did enough to be able to win the championship. Here are 5 reasons why Memphis blew a 9-point lead with just over two minutes remaining en route to a 75-68 overtime loss.
- Derrick Rose‘s invisibility cloak in the first half. There were thoughts that Rose was still feeling it from his stomach ailment the day before the way he would give up the ball as soon as he came down the court. He finished the half with three points compared with 15 second-half points, as Memphis headed into the break with a 5-point deficit, their largest deficit at halftime in the season.
- The Tigers were criminally negligent with the ball at times, leading to 11 Jayhawk steals, none bigger than the inbounds pass and subsequent 3-pointer by Sherron Collins to give Kansas five quick points and trim the deficit to 60-56.
- Memphis big man Joey Dorsey fouled out with with 1:23 left in regulation. His absence in overtime allowed the Jayhawks to do what they did all game, penetrate inside for high-percentage shots.
- Missed free throws. Chris Douglas-Roberts missed his last three free throws, including two with 16 seconds left to keep it at 62-60, and Rose made just one of two with 10 seconds left to make it 63-60. That prevented it from being a two-possession game with 10 seconds left, which would have virtually put it away.
- Mario Chalmers made his game-tying 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds remaining in regulation. Do you need to be told to play the perimeter tightly? He got a great look, and his clutch shot will probably now replace Tyus Edney‘s famous full-court drive for the game-winning layup commercial. And you know how the story ends.
Despite the late-game collapse and loss of the national championship, Memphis set the record for most wins in a season, finishing 38-2 (Kansas finished 37-3). The team I chose to take it all from the start of the tournament tried to become just the second team in NCAA tournament history to win the title with a sub-65% FT in the regular season (’04 Connecticut). Boy, did that come back to bite them when it counted. Memphis finished the season shooting 61.4% from the charity strike, led by Douglas-Roberts’ and Rose’s 71.2%. It remains to be seen who’ll pull out early for the draft, particularly the freshman Rose, who was a third-team All-American. Dorsey is a senior and made a strong showing throughout the tournament on the glass despite battling foul trouble in the close games. All in all, a heck of a run by a number one seed and C-USA team many didn’t see making the Final Four.