for this game

Memphis lays down Law, Texas A&M

Mar 23, 2007 - 5:31 AM SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- Acie Law IV has made a career of hitting clutch shots. Missing one of the easiest brought an end to that career.

Antonio Anderson hit two free throws with 3.1 seconds remaining to lift second-seeded Memphis to a 65-64 victory over third-seeded Texas A&M in an NCAA Tournament South Region semifinal.

Jeremy Hunt scored 19 points and Chris Douglas-Roberts added 15 for Memphis (33-3), which extended its winning streak to 25 games - best in the nation - and advanced to Saturday's regional final to face top-seeded Ohio State.

"Anderson was 1-for-6 and missed two layups, and I wanted to choke him at halftime," Tigers coach John Calipari said. "He also missed a free throw, but he comes back and makes those two free throws. I'm proud of how they responded, but it was like a gut-check at times."

While Texas A&M enjoyed a huge home-court advantage playing 180 miles from its campus, Memphis had the better history, winning its 11th consecutive NCAA tournament game in the state of Texas and improving to 11-1 there overall.

"This is what we wanted, to come to Texas, in front of 30,000 (fans) and prove ourselves," Calipari said. "The pressure was on them, not us."

It was a taut struggle throughout with 12 ties and 19 lead changes. Neither team led by more than five points, and the only scoring in the final three minutes came at the free-throw line.

"It was a tough loss, a really intense game," Aggies coach Billy Gillispie said. "Both teams played really hard. They did a fantastic job only fouling us four times on the second half. We didn't get enough foul shots. We fouled too much in the second half and gave them too many. Congratulations to Memphis."

Holding a one-point lead and the ball in the final minute, the Aggies seemed in good shape with the ball in the hands of senior point guard Law, who is nicknamed "Mr. Clutch" for his ability to take over games down the stretch.

A&M attempted a home run pass to Law, who caught it in stride but missed the layup with 47 seconds to play that would have made it a three-point lead.

"I thought I made it, but I left it a little short," Law said. "Little plays like that cost you the ballgame. You have to convert those plays. It came back and hurt us at the end, and cost us the game."

Memphis still had to convert the winning basket against A&M (29-7), which entered the tournament with the best defensive field goal percentage at 37.1 percent.

After Andre Allen launched a 3-pointer that was well short, Jeremy Hunt and Robert Dozier each had follow shots that were off the mark. Finally, Anderson was fouled as he grabbed a rebound with 3.1 seconds left.

That sent Anderson to the free-throw line and, despite the fact he shot just 65 percent for the season and was a mere 1-of-4 from the stripe in the game, the sophomore guard calmly buried both foul shots to give Memphis a 65-64 lead.

"Being a basketball player, you live for situations like that," Anderson said. "When I got to the line, I knew my teammates were tired and so were they. I said, 'Let me get this game over with.' So I just went up there with no conscience and knocked them down."

Texas A&M still had a slight hope but an inbound pass was deflected out of bounds by the Tigers and the officials took 1.1 seconds off the clock, leaving the Aggies with just two seconds left.

Dominique Kirk heaved up a shot from just inside the half-court line that was well short of the rim, sending the Tigers into a regional final for the second straight season and fifth time in school history.

"We're playing with a chip on our shoulder, and we've been playing that since earlier in the year," said Douglas-Roberts, who was a surprise start after spraining his ankle in Sunday's victory over Nevada. "But we're winning in the NCAA Tournament right now, and we're playing the elite of the elite, and we're still winning. We're proving people wrong, and we're playing good."

A&M, which lost only four times when leading at halftime, lamented the fact that it gave Memphis four attempts on the decisive final seconds.

"They missed four shots and got offensive rebounds four times and you pride yourself on defense and you pride yourself on finishing your defensive positions with defensive rebound and we just didn't get it done," Gillispie said. "So that makes it a little bit more frustrating to lose."

"It was my job to get a rebound, and I didn't get it, and it cost us the game," Aggies center Antanas Kavaliauskas said of the final sequence.

Douglas-Roberts, who was questionable entering the contest, provided an early boost by scoring 11 points in the first 10:08 to spark the Tigers to a 23-19 lead.

The Aggies rallied behind Kavaliauskas, who scored as many points in the opening 20 minutes (13) as he had in the previous three games combined to help A&M forge a 42-37 halftime advantage.

Memphis started to take control inside, parlaying some key blocked shots and a pair of 3-pointers in a 10-0 run to erase a five-point deficit and take its biggest lead, 53-48, on a pair of free throws by Douglas-Roberts with 11:19 to play.

The Aggies battled back and took their final lead, 64-63, on a single free throw by Josh Carter with 1:50 left, but wound up with another bitter defeat. Their final six losses this season came by a total of 11 points.

"We just didn't finish plays," A&M center Joseph Jones said. "Teammates gave us the ball close to the basket, and we just couldn't finish. It cost us the game."