75 - 68 Final - OT
  for this game

Chalmers' heroics help Kansas win national title

Apr 8, 2008 - 5:46 AM By Matt Santillo PA SportsTicker College Basketball Editor

SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- Mario Chalmers made Memphis' inability to close out the game at the free-throw line very costly.

Chalmers drilled the game-tying 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds to play in regulation and Kansas took control in overtime to defeat the Tigers, 75-68, in the NCAA Tournament championship game on Monday.

Darrell Arthur scored 20 points and Chalmers finished with 18 en route to being named the Most Outstanding Player for the Jayhawks (37-3), who won their first national championship since 1988.

"I can't (describe this)," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "We made so many plays down the stretch and got the ball into our most clutch player's hands, and he delivered."

Critics had wondered when Memphis' poor shooting from the stripe would hurt it in the tournament, and it occurred at the absolute wrong time.

Attempting to hold onto a 62-60 lead with 16 seconds left, Chris Douglas-Roberts missed a pair of free throws for the Tigers. However, Robert Dozier tracked down the long offensive rebound and got the ball to freshman Derrick Rose, who was fouled with 10 seconds to play.

Despite his team still having a chance to add to the lead, Douglas-Roberts openly displayed his frustration, slamming the ball to the court after play was whistled dead - an action that got him a warning from the officials.

Rose had his first foul shot rattle out, but made the second for a three-point edge.

"Yeah, I mean, it came back and bit us," said Douglas-Roberts about the free-throw woes. "We missed 'em. We missed 'em at a crucial time.

"But, we were still up. We were still up with 10 seconds to go. We were still up three. Yeah, I think it was three with 10 seconds to go. But I guess you can boil it down to the free throws."

That slim advantage quickly dissipated, as Jayhawks guard Sherron Collins dribbled the ball down the court and handed it off to Chalmers, who drained the game-tying 3-pointer from just to the right of the key with only moments left in regulation.

"I got a good look," Chalmers said. "They gave me a good pass. When it left my hand it felt good and I was just glad it went in."

"It will probably be the biggest shot ever made in Kansas history," Self said. "You know, when 'Danny (Manning) and The Miracles' won it in '88, they were up four late or whatever. So I don't think it had - I mean, there were big, great plays that were being made, but none like that."

Apparently, Memphis coach John Calipari had instructed Rose to foul Collins before he had a chance to work through a play, but no foul was called after Collins avoided any initial contact.

"We were fouling late and the kid (Collins) got away from Derrick so he couldn't get to him to foul him, and when he did get to him, knocked him to the floor and they just didn't call it and I understand why. And then they make a tough shot."

With Chalmers' second basket from the arc, Kansas closed out regulation with a 12-3 run, erasing a 60-51 deficit with just over two minutes to play. Collins also had a 3-pointer during that surge and Arthur added a pair of baskets.

"Our whole mind-set is just knowing we get one stop and try to get some buckets on the other end," Kansas guard Brandon Rush said. "We needed to try to pressure out, try to get one stop, one stop at a time."

The contest was the first overtime title game since Arizona defeated Kentucky in 1997.

Kansas took full advantage of its new life in the extra session, scoring the first six points and never trailing again.

Rush, who scored 12 points, opened the overtime with a layup in transition off a steal by Collins, and he made it 71-65 with 1:12 to play when he was found in the open court and followed up on his initial missed layup.

The Tigers managed to cut their deficit to 71-68 on a 3-pointer from Douglas-Roberts moments later, but could pull no closer as Memphis missed its final three shots.

"Overtime they kind of beat us down," Calipari said. "I didn't sub a whole lot because I was trying to win the game at the end. I didn't give Chris enough sub and I didn't give Antonio (Anderson) enough sub."

Chalmers and Collins both converted a pair of free throws inside the closing 45 seconds for the Jayhawks, who finished 14-of-15 from the stripe.

The Tigers, who were the third-worst team in Division I on free throws at 59 percent entering the tournament, went 12-of-19 from the line.

Douglas-Roberts had 22 points for Memphis (38-2), which set an NCAA single-season record for wins in a season, a mark that has to feel hallow without a national crown.

After a sluggish first half, Rose singlehandedly put the Tigers in position to win the title, scoring 15 of his 18 points in the second half.

The freshman guard had an impressive stretch where he scored 14 of 16 points for Memphis, turning a 43-40 deficit with just over 12 minutes to play into a 56-49 cushion with 4:14 remaining.

Rose made 6-of-7 shots during that stretch, including a 3-pointer and a three-point play, and assisted on the other basket.

"At that time, I was just trying to keep us in the game," Rose said. "They were sagging a little bit. I just thought that if I started making shots, that everybody else would start getting open. And I was just trying to drive the ball and just make them come towards me so I could pass it out."

The freshman finished with eight assists and six rebounds en route to being to the all-tournament team along with Douglas-Roberts.

However, it was Kansas' impressive showing inside that help it claim its third national crown.

Along with going 9-of-13 from the field, Arthur grabbed 10 rebounds, including five offensive.

Overall, the Jayhawks finished with a 44-26 advantage in points in the paint and 39-28 margin on the boards. They also fouled out the Tigers' Joey Dorsey, limiting him to six points and two rebounds.

"I thought we did a great job just putting (a) body on them, keeping them frustrated, not let them get easy paint," Arthur said. "(We also) just tried to take it to them on the offensive end."