Stephens helps Memphis down Western KentuckyDec 5, 2010 - 4:43 AM Memphis, TN (Sports Network) - D.J. Stephens scored 13 points and pulled down 11 rebounds off the bench, as the 14th-ranked Memphis Tigers stayed unbeaten with a 77-61 victory over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers from FedEx Forum.
Joe Jackson added 15 points and six assists for the Tigers (7-0), who got 11 points and five rebounds from Tarik Black.
"Great win for the Tigers. Bottom line is we are 7-0, and I want to make sure Tiger Nation doesn't take 7-0 for granted," Memphis head coach Josh Pastner said. "This is Tiger Nation that not only includes the city of Memphis, but all surrounding areas. This is your team, and you cannot be better than 7-0. Do not take that for granted. Appreciate that and enjoy it because winning is hard. Winning one game is hard so appreciate that."
Sergio Kerusch finished with 16 points and eight rebounds for the Hilltoppers (3-5), who have lost four in a row. Ken Brown and Caden Dickerson chipped in with 10 and eight points, respectively.
The Hilltoppers hung with the Tigers for a majority of the first half. Stephon Drane made a pair of free throws to pull Western Kentucky within three, 25-22, with 7:40 remaining.
Memphis responded with six straight points to create some distance. Chris Crawford's three-pointer made it a 31-22 contest with 6:35 to go.
Holding a 40-31 margin with 2:18 left, the Tigers scored the final seven points of the half to take a 47-31 lead into the locker room.
Memphis ripped off four consecutive points to start the second half to build a 51-31 advantage.
Still down by 20 moments later, Western Kentucky put together a 12-0 run to make things a bit interesting. Kerusch tallied six points during the stretch, including a layup with 13:06 remaining to make it a 53-45 contest.
Wesley Witherspoon stopped the bleeding with a slam, and the Tigers led by at least eight the rest of the way.
"I thought the guys really tried hard, but we are just shooting ourselves in the foot a little bit with our turnovers," Western Kentucky head coach Ken McDonald said. "We were, at times, careless with the ball, and we didn't do some of the fundamental things you have to do, especially on the road. You can't spot teams 15, 16 points at half time and then have to claw yourself back into the game. At that point, there is just no margin for error, what so ever."
The all-time series between Western Kentucky and Memphis is tied, 9-9, with the last meeting taking place in the 1993 NCAA Tournament, which the Hilltoppers won, 55-52...The last time Memphis dropped a game to a Sun Belt Conference opponent came in the 1999-2000 campaign. The Tigers lost 84-72 at Arkansas State on December 16, 1999...The Tigers have a 116-13 overall record at FedEx Forum...The Hilltoppers fell to 2-2 against ranked teams in head coach Ken McDonald's two-plus seasons...Memphis made 48.3 percent of its shots, while Western Kentucky shot 31.4 percent from the floor.
- WESTERN KENTUCKY: 61
Dec 4 10:11 PM
- WESTERN KENTUCKY: 31
Dec 4 9:07 PM
- WESTERN KENTUCKY: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Dec 4 8:08 PM
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