No. 14/15 Memphis Downs Western Kentucky 77-61

Dec. 4, 2010

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By: Preston McClellan

MEMPHIS – Coming into Saturday’s matchup against Western Kentucky, Memphis (7-0) needed someone to emerge on the inside. D.J. Stephens did just that by totaling career highs in points (11) and rebounds (13) in a series of above-the-rim plays en route to leading the Tigers to a 77-61 victory over the Hilltoppers (3-5) at FedExForum.

D.J. Stephens had a double-double and really stepped up for us,” Memphis head coach Josh Pastner said.

Freshmen Joe Jackson (15) and Tarik Black (11) were the only other Tigers to finish in double-digits in a game that saw Memphis commit 21 turnovers and lose the battle of the boards, 43-41. WKU finished with 25 offensive rebounds, which resulted in 21 second-chance points.

The Tigers overcame that sloppy play by exploiting their size on the inside and forcing the Hilltoppers into 20 turnovers of their own. Memphis finished with 46 points in the paint and 20 points off the 21 WKU turnovers.

WKU was led by 16 points from Sergio Kerusch, who added eight rebounds in 29 minutes. Ken Brown (10) was the only other Hilltopper that finished in double figures. The Memphis defense held Juan Patillo to just six points on 1-of-10 shooting from the floor. Pattillo came in as WKU’s leading scorer at nearly 17 points per contest.

Memphis took a 47-31 advantage into halftime and was keyed by 11 first-half points from Jackson, who also provided what was perhaps the highlight of the season thus far.Leading just 21-18 at the 8:54 mark, Jackson took the inbounds pass after a free throw from Kerusch and drove the length of floor before throwing down a powerful tomahawk slam that sent the 17,171 fans in attendance at FedExForum into a frenzy. The jam sparked a 14-5 run that gave the Tigers their first double-digit lead of the game at 37-27.

The Hilltoppers refused to go away, however, as they cut the lead to single digits on two different occasions in the second half. Memphis was able to respond each time, however. Kerusch made it a 53-45 game at the 13:06 mark on a layup before Wesley Witherspoon responded with an emphatic slam for Memphis on the other end.WKU narrowed the deficit to nine again seven minutes later, this time on Pattillo’s only field goal of the night at the 6:44 mark that narrowed the Tiger lead to 61-52.

Five straight points by Will Coleman, however, effectively put the game out of reach, as the Tigers closed the game on a 16-9 run.Coleman and Witherspoon each finished with seven points in the contest. Black’s 11 points were a career-high, and the freshmen from Memphis, Tenn., also added a career-best four rejections.

Memphis finished with a season-high 12 blocks, the most since blocking 13 shots against Houston Baptist on Jan. 3, 2010.

The Tigers travel to New York City for their first true road game of the season Tuesday, Dec. 7, as they will face the Kansas Jayhawks as part of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic at Madison Square Garden. Game time is slated for 6 p.m. (CT) with the game being televised on ESPN.

“Tuesday’s game versus Kansas is going to be a big time game in a big time atmosphere,” Pastner said. “Bottom line is, this is just another game on our schedule and we are not getting too high with the highs or too low with the lows.”

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About pmccllln

21 years young. Senior PR student at the University of Memphis. Student intern for Memphis Athletic Media Relations. Follow me @p_mcclellan.

Posted on January 12, 2011, in Memphis Tigers, NCAA Basketball and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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