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Today in Sports History: 4/7 – Kansas Beats Memphis for 2008 NCAA Championship

Today in sports history (2008), the Kansas Jayhawks beat the Memphis Tigers in the 2008 NCAA Championship. College basketball fans all around the world were treated to one of the best championships of all time. The 2008 Final Four featured all one seeds, leading the championship to be a one vs. one. This was the second championship game in a row that featured two one seeds battling it out.

The story for the Memphis Tigers all year was the play of Derrick Rose. Chris Douglas-Roberts was also instrumental in getting the Tigers to the championship game of the NCAA Tournament. On the Jayhawks’ side of the ball, they were led by Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush and Darrell Arthur.

Coming into the game, the Tigers were favored by two points. This game was famously forced into OT by a late Chalmers three-point make.

Mario Chalmers Kansas Memphis
Credit: Mark Humphrey/AP Photo

Kansas Downs Memphis in 2008 NCAA Championship

Kansas immediately opened the game hot, as Arthur and Chalmers combined for 13 out of the Jayhawks’ first 22 points. They had built a 22-15 lead with 8:30 left in the first half. Douglas-Roberts answered back scoring seven points in four minutes, eventually tying the game up at 28-28. Kansas finished the first half with a Rush three-point play and an Arthur two-point jumper. The Jayhawks led 33-28 at the half.

When the second half opened, Memphis got a hot start from Antonio Anderson, who helped catalyze a run that saw Memphis take a 36-35 lead. Kansas’ Darnell Jackson ripped off a four-point run in 30 seconds to give Kansas a three-point lead. That is when Rose took over.

First Rose cut the Kansas lead to one. He then scored 10 points in four minutes to give Memphis a 56-49 advantage. Down nine with two minutes left, Kansas made an incredible comeback. Arthur and Sherron Collins hit five straight points to cut the Memphis lead to four. Kansas worked that Memphis lead down to two with 10 seconds left. On the ensuing bonus free throws, Rose missed his first, but he made the second. On Kansas’ next possession Chalmers hit a three-pointer with 2.1 seconds remaining to tie the game at 63 and force OT.

In OT, Kansas came out hot. Rush, Arthur and Darnell Jackson all hit shots to give Kansas a 69-63 lead. Douglas-Roberts sparked a comeback for Memphis, scoring five points to bring the score to 71-68 in favor of Kansas. The Jayhawks made some late free throws and finished off Memphis, winning their third championship.

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