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VOL. 123 | NO. 67 | Friday, April 4, 2008

Tigers Ready to Pounce On UCLA, Final Four History

LANCE ALLAN WIEDOWER | The Daily News

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When the University of Memphis Tigers play UCLA in the first semifinal game of Saturday's Final Four, it won't be the first meeting between the two schools. That came in 1973, when the Bruins defeated the Tigers 87-66 in the national championship game.

The U of M is hoping Saturday's game, set to tip off at 5:07 p.m., will have a different result.

That 1973 game is remembered nationally for the Bruins' Bill Walton, whose 44 points on 21 of 22 field goal attempts was one of the best individual performances in NCAA Tournament history. For the Tigers, school icon Larry Finch scored 29 points in the losing effort.

Back in Memphis, however, the game is remembered for more than just the first Final Four appearance in school history. Many Memphians fondly recall how it united a city that still was seeing the effects of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. five years earlier.

That togetherness and Tiger Pride again has swept the city this year, thanks to an amazing three-year run that has seen the Tigers win 103 games, one short of the record set by Kentucky during the 1996-1998 seasons. Memphis' 37 wins this season ties them with four other Division I programs with that number, a NCAA Division I record.

Memphis and UCLA, by the way, have played six times, with the Bruins leading the all-time series 4-2. The last meeting was one the Tigers probably would like to forget. It came during the Elite Eight round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament, a 50-45 Bruins win.

That postseason was the first time the Tigers had been awarded a No. 1 seed. This year is the second.

Whether the second time as a No. 1 seed is a charm, no one will know until a little after 7 Saturday night when the final horn sounds.

If the Tigers are able to earn the win, it's off to Monday night's championship game against the winner of Kansas/North Carolina.

For Tiger fans who hope to celebrate the school's third Final Four appearance with other Memphians, several watch parties are on tap for Saturday's game.

On campus, the doors at the Elma Roane Field House will open at 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. It will feature free food, prizes, games and various giveaways. Free parking will be available in all university general parking areas. The parking garage adjacent to the field house will cost $5.

The following events in the Memphis area are sponsored by the University of Memphis Alumni Association:


Downtown

T.J. Mulligan's, 362 N. Main St.

Collierville

Johnny Brusco's, 225 New Byhalia Road

Cordova

T.J. Mulligan's, 8071 Trinity Road

Germantown/East Memphis

Brookhaven Pub, 695 W. Brookhaven Circle

The Cockeyed Camel, 6080 Primacy Parkway

Olive Branch

Buffalo Wild Wings, 7995 Craft-Goodman Frontage Road

Midtown

Newby's Bar and Grill, 539 S. Highland St.

Millington

Chili's, 8526 Highway 51


For more information about watch parties across the country, go to http://alumni.memphis.edu/2008TournamentActivities.htm.

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