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December 4, 2010
Tops Make Run, Can't Climb Out Of Deficit
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)-- D.J. Stephens came to Memphis to be a role player.
Saturday night, he made contributions in a more tangible way.
Stephens had 13 points and 11 rebounds and Memphis (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 14 AP) overcame another sloppy performance to beat Western Kentucky 77-61 Saturday night.
"I try to play as hard as I can to bring energy to the floor," said Stephens, who recorded career-highs in both points and rebounds. "A lot of times in part of the games where we get up, we get content, and the level of energy drops. When I come in, I just try to bring as much energy as possible."
Joe Jackson led the Tigers (7-0) with 15 points and six assists, but Memphis had 21 turnovers and the Hilltoppers got 25 offensive rebounds.
Sergio Kerusch led Western Kentucky with 16 points, including 11 in the second half. Ken Brown scored 10 for the Hilltoppers, who lost their fourth straight.
Juan Pattillo, the Hilltoppers' scoring leader with 16.9 points per game, was limited to six points. Western Kentucky (3-5) shot 31 percent, including 4 of 18 from outside the arc. The Hilltoppers also had 20 turnovers.
"I thought the guys really tried hard, but we are just shooting ourselves in the foot a little bit with our turnovers," Western Kentucky 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."
Tarik Black finished with 11 points for Memphis. Stephens had career highs in points and rebounds.
Memphis closed the half with a 10-2 run to carry a 47-31 lead into the break behind Jackson's 11 points.
But while Memphis was able to hold the Hilltoppers to 26.5 percent shooting and cause 16 turnovers, Western Kentucky dominated the boards, holding a 25-18 advantage, including 15 on offense in the first half alone.
"We have two areas, flat-out areas, where we struggled," Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. "Twenty-five offensive rebounds. that's the No. 1 glaring issue. Twenty-one turnovers is number two, and that's 46 possessions we gave away. That just can't happen."
The first half was slow and sloppy. Memphis was called for 17 fouls and Western Kentucky had 11.
"I'm pleased we won," Memphis guard Will Barton said. "That's all I care about it. We just want to keep improving. We're not a finished product. All we've got to do is keep improving and winning."