for this game

Memphis holds off pesky Mississippi State

Mar 24, 2008 - 2:08 AM LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (Ticker) -- Memphis' shortcomings at the free-throw line may yet come back to haunt it - as it nearly did Sunday.

The top-seeded Tigers missed more than half their free throws but managed to hold off No. 8 seed Mississippi State, 77-74, in a second-round matchup out of the NCAA Tournament's South Regional.

"It was a great effort and my hat is off to Mississippi State," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "We got them down 13, 14, 12, whatever it was, they start going away, and they come right back at us and never stopped."

Looking for its first Final Four appearance since 1985, Memphis went up, 77-74, with 3.2 seconds to play when Chris Douglas-Roberts made the second of two free throws.

Mississippi State rushed the ball upcourt but Jamont Gordon hit the back rim on a 3-pointer at the buzzer and Memphis escaped.

"We took one of the best teams in the country right to the wire," Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said. "It's a play here or there that's the difference between winning and losing."

Freshman Derrick Rose and Douglas-Roberts each scored 17 points for Memphis, which will meet No. 5 Michigan State in the regional semifinals.

Memphis led 36-27 at the half, using a 21-6 run over the last eight minutes to overcome a slow start. Mississippi State hung around in the second half and tied the game, 52-52, on a three-point play by Jarvis Varnado.

Robert Dozier then scored consecutive baskets as Memphis regained control with a 7-2 run. The Tigers stayed in front and were up, 72-65, with 48 seconds to play but were unable to ice the game from the line.

Memphis shot 15-of-32 (47 percent) from the line and was 5-of-10 in the final 31 seconds, leaving the door open for Mississippi State.

Gordon got off a 3-point shot before the buzzer but had dribbled the ball off his leg and was off-balance after recovering and firing to beat the clock.

"I got it on the run to get a good run and they came out and trapped me," Gordon said. "I dribbled off my leg a little bit and didn't get a good shot at the rim."

Ben Hansbrough scored 19 points and Charles Rhodes had 14 and 10 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who have not advanced past the second round since a trip to the Final Four in 1996.

"Every team that plays except one is going to have the feeling we have right now," Stansbury said. "It's not going to be but one team that doesn't have this feeling. And as we said, make sure when we leave this floor that we have no regrets. And we left everything we had on the floor."

What the Tigers lacked at the line they made up for on the boards, led by Joey Dorsey, who scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Memphis held a 45-37 edge on the boards and had 19 offensive rebounds that led to 22 second-chance points.

"He was definitely the focal point, he was an animal," Douglas-Roberts said of Dorsey. "When he plays like that, our team is so much better. He was everywhere, helping everybody. He was great today."