No. 19 Memphis Defeats LSU, 70-61
No. 19 Memphis Defeats LSU, 70-61; Tigers Continue Win Streak, Move to 4-0 on SeasonBy: Preston McClellan
TUPELO, Miss. – Behind 20 points from Wesley Witherspoon, the Memphis Tigers (4-0)showed grit and tenacity on their way to a 70-61 victory over LSU (2-2) in front of a record 7,941 fans at BancorpSouth Arena in the Global Sports Challenge.
“It’s a great win for us,”Memphis head coach Josh Pastner said. “We didn’t play really well to be honest with you, but we got the ‘W’.”
Memphis found itself in a first-half hole for the first time this season as LSU took a 34-33 lead into the break behind 12 first-half points from Aaron Dotson. Witherspoon led the way for Memphis in the opening half, scoring 13 points in 17 minutes.
In a game that lasted nearly two-and-a-half hours and saw 54 total fouls, Memphis outlasted LSU, which saw Malcolm White, Storm Warren, and Garrett Green–all post players–foul out in the second half.
“It’s frustrating for me,” LSU head coach Trent Johnson said. “I have to do a better job of adjusting to how the game is being officiated.”
Memphis came out of the locker room firing and used a 6-0 early second half run to regain the lead 39-34 at the 17:23 mark after a steal and coast-to-coast finish from Joe Jackson. LSU responded, however, as the Tigers narrowed the gap to 41-40 on a contested triple from Andre Stringer, who finished with a team-high 13 points.
Chris Crawford answered on the ensuing possession for Memphis, driving through the left side of the lane and using the backboard to go up and under for an and-one layup that keyed a 9-0 run. That run was capped by a NBA-range triple from Angel Garcia at the top of the key, and Memphis looked poised to put the game out of reach.
LSU again responded, however, with a 12-4 run of its own to climb within one at the 5:39 mark. An old fashioned three-point play by Jackson put Memphis ahead 55-52 before LSU answered with a trifecta from Ralston Turner and a layup by Stringer to take the lead 57-56.
After Tarik Black, who made the first start of his career, split a pair of free throws to notch the game at 57, Jackson found Crawford alone in the corner. Crawford, who had struggled finding his range throughout the game, calmly received the pass and swished home the three-ball to put Memphis back in front 60-57, this time for good. An emphatic dunk by Witherspoon on the next Tiger possession gave Memphis a 62-57 lead with less than three minutes to play.
Another triple from Crawford at the 1:02 mark extended the Tiger lead to eight and Jackson would make three-of-four free throws in the last minute to ice the game.
Black finished with nine points and nine rebounds to lead the Tiger big men. Jackson and Crawford joined Witherspoon in double figures with 12 points apiece. Will Barton, who battled foul trouble throughout the game after picking up his third foul with four minutes to go in the first half, finished with eight points and three steals in 23 minutes of action.
Dotson and Turner were the only other LSU players to join Stringer in double digits, netting 12 and 11 points, respectively. Green added eight, all in the first half before fouling out.
Memphis’ defense again stepped up, holding LSU to just 18-of-52 (34.6 percent) shooting from the floor, including just 5-of-15 from beyond the arc. The Tigers also forced 13 turnovers which they converted into 15 points. Memphis held LSU to without a field goal in the final 4:48.
With the victory, Memphis extends its winning streak to four and improves to a perfect 4-0 on the season, matching the mark of 2008-09 campaign.
Memphis continues the 2010-11 campaign Tuesday, Nov. 23 when it returns to the friendly confines of FedExForum to take on the Skyhawks of UT-Martin.
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