Douglas-Roberts helps Memphis get over hump in regional finalMar 30, 2008 - 11:19 PM Memphis showed that they had learned from past failures.
Douglas-Roberts scored 25 points as top-seeded Memphis booked a long-awaited trip to the Final Four with an 85-67 victory over Texas in the South Regional final on Sunday.
Freshman Derrick Rose had 21 points, nine assists and six rebounds for the Tigers (37-1), who claimed their first appearance in the national semifinals since 1985.
"We are a pretty good team. I just keep saying it," said Memphis coach John Calipari, who also went to the Final Four with Massachusetts in 1996. "I believe in these guys, I trust them.
"And I'm just proud of these players. They are just performing and they want this, but they don't feel like they have to have it. This has been a wonderful year and we want to win a couple more if we can."
Memphis had been in a regional final each of the previous two seasons, losing both times to the eventual national runner-up in UCLA and Ohio State.
The Tigers had a serious chance to win each of those previous matchups in the "Elite Eight" but struggled in key moments.
In the loss to the Bruins in 2006, Memphis missed 14 straight 3-pointers en route to absorbing a 50-45 loss. A year later, the Tigers had a late five-point lead against the Greg Oden-led Buckeyes but could not hold on.
Although they led throughout in this one, the Tigers did face some pivotal moments against the Longhorns and shook them off in fine fashion.
Holding a 39-28 lead at the half, Memphis saw Texas make a charge out of the intermission, scoring the first six points to slice its deficit to five points. The Tigers, however, answered with an 18-4 run over the next eight minutes.
"When teams make runs, we talk and say it's our turn to make a run," Douglas-Roberts said. "This is the tournament. Everybody's going to make a run."
After Damion James' jumper made it 39-34 with just 1:40 expired, Shawn Taggart sank a jumper, Rose threw down a double-pump dunk in transition and Antonio Anderson banked in a 3-pointer to put together a 7-0 run for Memphis, making it 46-34 with 15:01 left.
James then tipped in his own missed layup before Rose answered back with a jumper. Despite finishing 4-of-18 from the field, Longhorns leading scorer D.J. Augustin got a layup, but Joey Dorsey came back with a three-point play to start a 9-0 burst for the Tigers.
After it made its first three shots of the second half, Texas went on to miss its next six shots to enable Memphis to undergo its decisive run.
"They've always played hard, but against Michigan State and against us their defense was outstanding," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "I don't think we've seen as good a defense as we saw today.
"Early in the game we turned the ball over, uncharacteristically, which you can't do. At halftime we felt fine that we could get back in it. They made it hard to score."
Texas got no closer than 13 points the rest of the way despite undertaking the tactic of intentionally putting Memphis on the free-throw line. The third-worst team in free-throw percentage in Division I at 59.8 percent, the Tigers had a banner day on Sunday, converting 30-of-36. Douglas-Roberts made 14-of-17.
"We always say, 'They don't think we can make them,'" Douglas-Roberts said about his team's free throw woes. "We're making them now."
Not only did they prove their critics wrong about being able to make free throws in a huge game, the Tigers proved that they are an elite program despite the fact that they have dominated Conference USA over the past two seasons.
"Our league is way better than it was three years ago with the breakup (five teams going to the Big East), way better," Calipari said. "Next year, my prediction is we'll get three teams in the NCAA Tournament - three.
"So our league is not the issue. The issue is we are really good. We are really good. And for someone that doesn't study the game, to watch us play, you're not going to - it's hard to figure out it. Looks like there's no rhyme or reason to what we do, and that's OK."
Rose converted 7-of-8 free throws while also shooting 7-of-10 from the field. He only committed two of the Tigers' seven turnovers.
"I was impressed with his composure," Barnes said of Rose. "He doesn't get rattled."
Taggart scored 12 points and Dorsey had a double-double of 11 and 12 rebounds for Memphis, which will face UCLA in San Antonio on Saturday.
Texas faced both UCLA and fellow top seed Kansas during the regular season, and second-leading scorer A.J. Abrams does not see much difference between them and Memphis.
"I would have to say they are just as athletic as anybody else," Abrams said. "I think they spread the court a little bit more than those other teams as far as driving the ball, and they use every position, they can drive the ball to the hoop. They are up there with the great teams this year, and they played great today."
Abrams scored 17 points and Augustin finished with 16 for Texas (31-7), which shot 36 percent (25-of-69) from the field and reached the stripe just nine times.
"We could have took some better shots," Augustin said. "Like I said, they played good defense. They wouldn't be here if they didn't, and they played together, and we did our best."
James finished with just eight points on 4-of-12 from the floor for the Longhorns, who had been 7-0 in NCAA Tournament games in their home state under Barnes.
- SOUTH REGIONAL
NCAA BB SOUTH REGIONAL
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
TEXAS (7) 28 39 67
MEMPHIS (3) 39 46 85 FINAL
Mar 30 4:34 PM
- SOUTH REGIONAL
NCAA BB (2) TEXAS 28
(1) MEMPHIS 39 HALFTIME
Mar 30 3:11 PM
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