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.