By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large
Of all the top seeds in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the general jabber picked out Memphis as the least respectable. The Tigers lost only one game this year, but Conference-USA certainly didn’t test them, they only shot 59 percent from the free-throw line this year and they appeared vulnerable.
But did you see those athletes Memphis rolled out against Texas Sunday afternoon for the South Region championship? So big, fast, athletic and long-armed. That team could win in any league, including the Big 12.
So, the Longhorns bowed out in an 85-67 loss to Memphis, and the game wasn’t even really that close. Before halftime, Memphis toyed with leads of a dozen or more. When Texas opened the second half with five straight points to crawl within 39-34, Memphis slammed down with seven straight points.
Memphis is ranked second nationally with a 37-1 record. If the Tigers make it past UCLA in the national semifinals next Saturday, they’re likely to play for the championship against a North Carolina team that remains the favorite.
Texas fans could hardly complain after the loss. Memphis dominated so completely that Longhorns can’t possibly pretend they ever had a chance. Instead, Texas fans are left to reflect on a surprising season, 31-7 with an Elite Eight entrance the year after losing Kevin Durant.
Last Friday night, the Longhorns were able to win with speed against a Stanford team that was merely big. But speed isn’t enough against a team that’s both big and fast, like Memphis. Despite the contributions of Connor Atchley and Damion James, the Horns just didn’t have enough size or speed inside to deal with a truly superior team.
Memphis blew through these last two rounds like a hurricane, taking a 50-20 halftime lead against Michigan State in the round of 16. If the Tigers don’t stop themselves, it’s going to be tough for anyone else to stop them the rest of the way.Email | Print