Austin Peay-Memphis Preview

Preparing to bounce back from its first loss of the season

wasn’t how Memphis envisioned spending its week off.

Coming out of that break down three players is even less

ideal.

The 18th-ranked Tigers will play their first game without

leading scorer Wesley Witherspoon, as well as being without two

reserves, when they host Austin Peay on Thursday night.

Memphis (7-1) returns to the court for the first time since an

81-68 loss to then-No. 4 Kansas at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 7.

Facing their first ranked opponent of the season, the Tigers shot

37.0 percent and were held more than 17 points below what they came

in averaging.

Rebounding from that loss became even tougher with news that

Witherspoon, who averages team highs of 13.0 points and 4.6

rebounds, could miss five weeks after undergoing surgery for a

right knee cartilage tear.

Witherspoon suffered the injury against Northwestern State on

Nov. 17 and had been slowed the last few weeks. He shot 3 of 11 and

had eight points against the Jayhawks.

“This is a tough break for Wesley, because at the time of the

injury, he was carrying us in those first five games,” coach Josh

Pastner said. “As for the team, we’ll continue to prepare and move

forward with our schedule. None of our opponents are going to feel

sorry for us because of this.”

That wasn’t the only bad news Memphis has had to deal with.

Angel Garcia announced he was leaving school to sign a professional

contract in Spain. The 6-foot-11 junior averaged 6.1 points and 3.0

rebounds, playing all eight games.

The Tigers will also be without sophomore D.J. Stephens because

of a groin injury. Stephens has played in all eight games,

including two as a starter, and is averaging 2.9 points and 3.1

rebounds in 12.0 minutes per game.

Down three players, freshman Hippolyte Tsafack could see action

Thursday night. He played in two exhibition games and had five

points and seven rebounds in a combined 19 minutes. The Tigers were

planning to redshirt him this season.

“It was probably a good thing that we had a little bit of a

break so we’re able to kind of get situated in some of those

areas,” Pastner said. “We’ll be ready. We know we’re going to have

a good challenge in front of us on Thursday but I have confidence

in our guys.”

The Tigers will look to Will Barton, who averages 12.4 points

and 4.1 rebounds, to step up. However, Pastner said he expects all

nine scholarship players to see playing time and contribute.

Memphis has two games to get into a rhythm before it hosts No.

15 Georgetown on Dec. 23.

Austin Peay (6-5) will try to take advantage of the Tigers’

shuffling lineup when it goes for its fourth win in five games. The

Governors defeated Division III Fontbonne 112-52 on Saturday.

TyShwan Edmondson scored 20 points to lead five players in

double figures. Austin Peay shot 57.3 percent and outrebounded the

Griffins 46-26.

It was the team’s first game without starter Anthony Campbell,

who was second with 13.9 points per game before suffering a

season-ending knee injury. Josh Terry started in his place and

scored 12 points.

Memphis is the second ranked opponent Austin Peay has faced this

season after an 87-65 loss to then-No. 10 Purdue on Nov. 23.

The Tigers are 15-4 all-time against the Governors, going 13-1

at home. The teams most recently met in 2007, with Memphis winning

104-82. Austin Peay last won 81-80 in overtime in 2002.