|#1||Memphis (38-1) ||77|
|#1||UCLA (35-4) ||75|
San Antonio, TX - A couple of late free throws keep the game close, but Memphis (38-1) dictates tempo and perseveres past UCLA (35-4). Just like the other National Semifinal, a Player of the Year candidate makes it difficult with a double-double, yet this one comes up short with the ball in his hands at the end of the game. When the high-flying Tigers and methodical Bruins were slated to play in the Final Four, everyone knew it would come down to which team could play its style and pace. With the game in the upper-70s, one expects Memphis to come out on top.
The 77-75 game was definitely not without intrigue and late game drama. After trailing by ten at half-time, UCLA, which is known more for scoring 40 points in a game, went on a tear in the second half with 44 points, including 13 from freshman standout Kevin Love. After sophomore backup guard Willie Kemp beckoned every Memphis fan's worst nightmare by missing two free-throws in the last 14 seconds and the Bruins down just two, Love grabbed the rebound off of the second miss. He swung the ball out to point guard Darrin Collison, but everyone knew it was coming back. Love backed down into the lane to get decent position on the left block. Collison found him and Love was immediately double-teamed by Robert Dozier and Joey Dorsey. He faked a drop-step left and faded away for a ten-foot attempt. Shot blocked. Joey Dorsey did his best Hakim Warrick impression to seal the victory for the Tigers.
Love finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and four assists - an impressive effort, but at least two points shy of what he would have needed to at least extend the game. Love has stated repeatedly that he has not made up his mind about coming back to school because he is having so much fun in college. How fun is college now?
While all five Bruins' starters scored in double figures, the Memphis attack was again stacked at the top. Conference USA Player of the Year Chris Douglas-Roberts put up 24 points on 8-14 shooting. He was joined in double digits by freshman phenom Derrick Rose who had 14 points. The two have now combined to score 210 points in five tournament games. Nine other Tigers scored in the effort.
Free-throw shooting almost bit Memphis in the end, but both teams actually struggled from the line. Collectively, just 25 out of 42 free throws were made, good for only 59.5%. The teams were pretty even across the board. The team stats were eerily similar. Memphis just had a slight edge in field goal percentage and that made the difference.
Memphis will advance to play Kansas in one of the best looking championship games in recent memory. After the Final Four, there is absolutely no doubt that these are the best two teams in the nation.
View other Final Four Recaps.