SAN ANTONIO -- Depending on the methodology, either UCLA or Memphis had been the nation's most successful team the last three seasons entering their national semifinal clash Saturday at the Alamodome.
The Bruins had reached their third consecutive Final Four, and no team had more victories than Memphis' 103.
But for all that glory, UCLA's achievement seemed for naught again Saturday as Memphis surged to its first title game appearance in 35 years by crunching the Bruins 78-63.
"I thought this was our best team, our best chance," UCLA coach Ben Howland said.
Memphis' emphatic victory set an NCAA record for wins in a season (38) and was its third straight by 15 or more points. The Tigers also handed UCLA its most lopsided loss since a 73-57 flameout against Florida in the 2006 championship game.
Since being thwarted in the Elite Eight the last two years, including by UCLA in 2006, Memphis had romped to 37 wins with just one loss all season. That had left coach John Calipari proclaiming the Tigers a team of destiny, saying over and over, "It's our time."
The Bruins (35-4) did nothing to dispel that Saturday, as Memphis led the final 35 minutes, 13 seconds to reach Monday's game against the winner of Saturday's late game between North Carolina and Kansas.
"I'm coaching a dream team," said Calipari, who cited Memphis' economic struggles and added, "The city of Memphis is one of those cities that needs something like this."
Memphis' three-guard backcourt dictated the tone and pace, combining for 65 points and just five turnovers. Chris Douglas-Roberts led the Tigers with 28 points, freshman Derrick Rose had 25, Antonio Anderson scored 12. Forward Joey Dorsey had 15 rebounds.
Russell Westbrook had 22 points for the Bruins, but Memphis muzzled freshman center Kevin Love (12 points, 4 of 11 from the field) and catalyst Darren Collison, who made just 1 of 9 shots and finished with two points.
If the Tigers had a weakness, it was supposed to be free-throw shooting. But after a season spent barely making 60 percent, Memphis shot 87 percent (20 of 23) on Saturday.
The win put Memphis in the final for the first time since 1973. In St. Louis, the Tigers lost 87-66 to UCLA and Bill Walton's 44 points. Memphis' only other Final Four appearance was in 1985.