A fade away 3-point shot by Mario Chalmers sent the NCAA Division I Championship game into overtime last night and insured Chalmers a place in Jayhawk history. The junior guard’s shot was a spark plug that rejuvenated the Kansas offense and ushered in their first national title in 20 years. In overtime the 'hawks defeated the Memphis Tigers 75-68.
The Tigers, who trailed by five at the half, jumped out to an 8-2 run in the start of the second half to take the lead. Memphis continued to pound home points as they set off on a 10-0 stretch that saw eight points by Chris Douglas-Roberts.
Down by nine, 60-51, KU shook off the onslaught and settled down to play ball. Darrell Arthur hit a mid-range jumper and was followed by Sherron Collins with a three-pointer to cut the lead to four.
With less than a minute to play, the Jayhawks decided to test the Tiger’s shaky free-throw shooting. Memphis, who hasn’t needed clutch free throws throughout the tournament, missed three vital shots. Douglas-Roberts hit the backside of his attempts with 10 seconds to go to go up 63-60.
As Collins was scrambling down the court, he pitched the ball to his left into the hands of Chalmers.
"I got a good look. They gave me a good pass. When it left my hand it felt good and I was just glad it went in," said Chalmers.
Senior Guard Russell Robinson said, “"Mario did a great job. He always steps up when we call on him."
Memphis put up a prayer on the following inbounds pass but it bounced harmlessly away from the basket.
As the overtime period got underway, Kansas showed their dominance. Collins made a steal and then passed it to Brandon Rush for a lay in.
Arthur pounded a lob from Chalmers and Darnell Jackson added a basket of his own. Memphis could never recover.
Despite all the celebrating and a trip to the White House, President George Bush invited the team for a visit, Kansas must now face the possibility of losing several teammates.
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Jason King, a source close to Rush said the junior will be entering the NBA Draft. This is the third time that Rush has chosen to enter the draft. The first was right out of high school. He changed his mind when he learned he wouldn’t go that high. The second time he declared was last year. A torn ACL kept him low on the draft list again and he decided to stay.
Chalmers and Arthur are also considering entering the draft. At this time though neither have made an announcement as to their intentions.
Rumors are swirling about head coach Bill Self as well. An alumnus of Oklahoma State University, Self has been questioned about the open coaching position there. At a press conference the morning after the victory at the Alamodome, Self said he is positively
not interested in the Oklahoma State job. He added that he would like to sit down with the KU staff and discuss ”security.”