Well, it's all over and the Kansas Jayhawks are the national champions, defeating Memphis 75-68 in overtime. And the miraculous end to regulation couldn't have been more fitting, coming twenty years after "Danny and the Miracles" won KU's last national crown.
Mario Chalmers, named MOP of the Tournament, nailed a game-tying three pointer with 2.1 seconds remaining. The shot had the effect of a sharp right cross on the Tigers, who even though they staggered around to stay alive in the extra session had the wind knocked out of them by that shot.
Two things ended up being correct in the end:
1. The assertion by many "experts" that foul shooting would eventually cost Memphis the national title. Three missed free throws late by Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose gave KU just enough wiggle room to get the game into overtime;
2. Bill Self was right in his pregame talk, telling his players that what happened tonight would stay with them for just about every day of the remainder of their lives. For Kansas, the daily feeling will be something that brings a smile to their faces. For Memphis, just the opposite.
Some final grades for tonight's game:
Mario Chalmers: A If not for Mario's shot, we're talking about Memphis finishing their season 39-1 with a national title.
Sherron Collins: A Collins came up big off the bench for the Jayhawks, getting a key steal late in regulation that allowed Kansas to get to within four at 60-56.
Darrell Arthur: A 20 points, 10 rebounds. A major reason why Kansas outrebounded Memphis by ten, and Joey Dorsey only had two boards.
Russell Robinson: C Not the best night for the senior, but he will leave Lawrence with a national title. Good stuff. As the game wore on, it was clear that Collins was the more effective of the two, hence Robinson only playing twenty minutes.
Brandon Rush: B As he did all season long, Rush was all over the stat sheet with 12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and a blocked shot.
Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun: B The two combined for twelve points and ten rebounds in the win.
Derrick Rose: B- He came up big in the second half, but it may have been a product of his cramping heading into OT that took away some of his aggression in the extra session.
Chris Douglas-Roberts: B CDR overall had a good game with 22 points and six rebounds. But those missed free throws are going to live with him for some time. Terrible fate for such an outstanding player, but in March these types of things happen.
Antonio Anderson: C Didn't get a whole lot going in regards to his shot, making just three of his nine attempts for nine points.
Joey Dorsey: C- I really thought he was going to get things rolling in the second half, but what ensued was a near disappearance (only two boards for the game) and his fouling out with 2:31 left in regulation. With Kansas scoring inside to start OT, think the Tigers could have used him.
Robert Dozier: B Didn't have a good first half, but he held his own for the night with eleven points and ten rebounds. The other Tiger forwards (who saw key minutes) racked up two and three rebounds each.
Shawn Taggart: C- At least he scored in the second half, but he didn't supply much else to the cause in this one. But it may have been more about what KU's big men did than anything he didn't do...other than get in foul trouble early.