No. 19 Memphis 70, LSU 61

When asked if he felt like an old man running around the

basketball court, Memphis forward Wesley Witherspoon shook his head

and grinned.

”Nah, I’m just seasoned,” he said.

Whatever you want to call him, there was little doubt

Witherspoon’s calming influence, not to mention his 20 points, were

crucial as No. 19 Memphis beat LSU 70-61 on Sunday.

The 6-foot-9 forward was efficient all over the court, making 6

of 8 shots from the field, including both 3-pointers he attempted.

He also made 6 of 7 free throws, grabbed seven rebounds and did a

little of everything as Memphis (4-0) remained undefeated.

Considering he’s only a junior, Witherspoon certainly isn’t

ancient. But compared to the players around him, he’s almost always

got the most experience. He said the leadership role is something

he’s embraced.

”Later on in the game, sometimes the younger guys just look to

somebody to tell them that it’s going to be all right out there,”

Witherspoon said. ”Somebody to tell them what they need to do. And

I think I’m that guy.”

Memphis (4-0) overcame 16 turnovers, including 11 in the first

half. The Tigers had a size advantage almost the entire the game,

but couldn’t take advantage until the final minutes, closing on a

13-4 run in the final four minutes.

Freshmen Chris Crawford and Joe Jackson both scored 12 points.

Crawford nailed a crucial 3-pointer with 1:02 remaining that helped

secure the victory. Another freshman, forward Tarik Black, added

nine points and nine rebounds.

But the trio of freshmen also made some maddening mistakes, with

careless passes and some ill-advised shots. Still, Memphis coach

Josh Pastner stuck with his young guys. During the game’s tight

final minutes, he often had four freshmen on the floor.

He agreed it wasn’t particularly pretty, but the only way for

his team to learn is by experience.

”We have a long way to go,” Pastner said. ”We have a young,

immature team. That’s what we are … We have a brand-new

basketball team.”

LSU (2-2) managed a 34-33 halftime lead despite two of its best

players – Storm Warren and Malcolm White – sitting on the bench the

majority of the first half in foul trouble. Garrett Green and Eddie

Ludwig filled in admirably, scoring eight points each in the first

half.

But the foul trouble continued in the second half, with Warren,

White and Green all fouling out. Andre Stringer led LSU with 13

points, making 8 of 11 from the free-throw line, while Aaron Dotson

added 12 and Ralston Turned scored 11.

The Tigers shot just 34.6 percent from the field (18 of 52),

including only 25 percent (6 of 24) in the second half.

”We just have to stay positive amongst ourselves and work hard

and continue to clean up the things that are correctable,” LSU

coach Trent Johnson said. ”We’re going to have a good basketball

team.”

The game was tightly called for both sides, with each team

whistled for 27 fouls and the teams shooting a combined 57 free

throws.

The game was played in front of an announced crowd of 7,941 at

BanCorpSouth Arena, which is in Tupelo, about 90 miles southeast of

Memphis.