Friday, March 23, 2007


Okay, now. Now you love us, pundits, don't you? Now you can agree that we're a good team. Right? Just a few of you? Really? Okay...

Memphis Shows Cojones
It's time to stop slagging on Memphis. I was as guilty as anyone of questioning Memphis' No. 2 seed and Conference-USA "pedigree," and I'll admit that I thought the Tigers would not only lose to Texas A&M but perhaps lose big. Yet John Calipari's guys showed some serious cajones in their 65-64 win in front of the Aggies' rabid home crowd. You want tough? Chris Douglas-Roberts plays on a sprained ankle and somehow becomes a huge factor (15 points). You want poise? Antonio Anderson steps to the line for two free throws with his team down one and three seconds left -- and nails them both. Maybe those Bob Rotella visualizing drills really do work on free throws. (Just to make sure we knew what was going on, Anderson grabbed his nether regions, Sam Cassell-style, after the final horn. Classic.)

Streaking Memphis 1 Win From Final Four
Visualize this: The Memphis Tigers are one win away from the NCAA Final Four. Forget those season-long struggles from the free throw line. The Tigers are making them when it counts, with Antonio Anderson hitting two with 3.1 seconds left Thursday night for a 65-64 victory over Texas A&M in the NCAA South Regional semifinal.

Anderson Nails Clutch Shots

Memphis Comes Through at the Line

Wild Night in San Antonio

The Tigers also deserve backslaps for the way they survived and advanced. They overcame a Final Four-caliber A&M team and an A&M crowd that outnumbered Memphis fans by 20 to 1 ... 50 to 1? More?

No wonder, as Memphis coach John Calipari waited to do his postgame interview with CBS, that he walked toward the Tigers' section of the Alamodome, such as it was, and pointed at them. And kept pointing.

"We ... played guys I haven't played all year, in this game, in this environment," said Calipari. "And in the end, made a couple of free throws, made a couple of baskets and walked away with a W in front of 30,000 Aggies, which makes it even more of an amazing thing."

Calipari exaggerated the size of the crowd, but not by much.

Memphis Wins 25th in a Row by Edging Aggies
Antonio Anderson's two free throws with 3.1 seconds left boosted Memphis to a thrilling 65-64 win over Texas A&M, as the Tigers extended the nation's longest winning streak to 25 games and moved into the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Memphis winning critics over

Memphis wants you to know it has one of the nation's best basketball programs. And it shouldn't matter that it plays in a bad conference.

So it's intent on winning and proving you – and me – wrong until we finally admit Memphis is an elite program. Frankly, that shouldn't be too hard after Memphis beat Texas A&M on Thursday night at the Alamodome.

Not after the Tigers won on the Aggies' home court. At least it sounded like their home court, considering the crowd of 26,060 couldn't have had more than 1,500 Memphis fans.

Not after the Tigers grabbed three offensive rebounds on their final offensive possession of the game. And certainly not after Antonio Anderson, a 64 percent free throw shooter, made two freebies with 3.1 seconds to give the Tigers a one-point lead.

Memphis earned this one. It deserved to win.

Eyes of Texas were upon them, but Tigers never blinked
Antonio Anderson stepped to the line, spun the ball in his palms, and tried not to think about the stakes or the moment.

Just 3.1 seconds remained in a game that had long since passed thrilling on its way to epic. Anderson had already hit the first free throw to tie the game for the 13th time. Now, after an interminable timeout, he had a chance to permanently untie it.

"When I got to the line, I said ‘Let me get this game over with,'" he said.

Anderson spun the ball in his hands. He bounced it once, then sent it spinning through the hoop and into history.

The massive blot of Texas A&M fans fell silent. The small section of Memphis fans hollered loud enough to make up for it.

John Calipari always said his Memphis Tigers would make their free throws when it mattered, didn't he?

It never mattered more than this, it couldn't matter more than this, as Anderson's two shots gave his team a lead it wasn't about to relinquish.

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