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Bisons fall to No. 21-rated Memphis

Thursday, December 30, 2010

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Lipscomb Bisons’ coach Scott Sanderson didn’t take long to start looking ahead to returning to Atlantic Sun Conference play.

His Bisons fell 88-70 to No. 21-ranked Memphis here Thursday night at the FedEXForum to close out the non-conference portion of the season. The Bisons will be on the road when A-Sun play resumes at Stetson in DeLand, Fla. Monday night.

Center Adnan Hodzic scored 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds, both team highs for the Bisons, in 36 minutes of play. Guard Josh Slater added 12 points, four rebounds and three steals in 24 minutes.

The biggest concern for Sanderson, especially with the grind of the A-Sun schedule ahead, is finding some help to give Hodzic and Slater some rest.

“I probably played certain guys too many minutes,” Sanderson said. “But when you get behind a little bit you have to play certain guys.

“Adnan and Josh played too many minutes. We have to have some other guys to step up. We could easily wear Adnan and Josh out in January and February so they wouldn’t have anything left in the tank in March. We have to be very careful about that.”

The Bisons reserves scored 16 points. Memphis got 19 points from the bench.

“I’m not comfortable enough about the production of some of our bench players,” Sanderson said. “We have to find another guy or two that can eventually play in the league.

“Hopefully, in league play and in practice, we can develop some guys who can come in and help us some. Right now some of those guys have a short rope. They have to be productive or do something possible when they enter the game. That is critical for them and also critical for our team.”

The Bisons, playing their last non-conference game of the season, fell to 7-4. Three of their four losses have been to nationally ranked teams. Memphis, from Conference USA, is 10-2.

Memphis shot 54 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range, 11-of-22. Forward Wesley Witherspoon led the way with 28 points, hitting four of five attempts from 3-point range.

Also scoring in double figures for Memphis were guard Will Barton with 15, guard Joe Jackson with 13 and guard Antonio Barton with 12.

“Memphis hit eight threes in the first half, “ Sanderson said. “They jumped out there like they were supposed to make them and they had been shooting 30 percent from 3-point range for the most part.

“They jumped up, so obviously that hurt us. We wanted to play more zone and the few times we did play zone we didn’t rebound very well. We got crushed on the backboard.”

The eight 3-point shots made by Memphis was the team high for the season in a half. Witherspoon’s four 3-pointers made tied a career high.

Memphis held a 42-23 advantage on the boards. Once again Witherspoon led the way for Memphis with a game-high 14 rebounds.

“We haven’t finished halves very well,” Sanderson said. “We turned the ball over two straight times. Those types of things, against a team like Memphis, are magnified.

“They hit a three and then hit another bucket and are back to fighting a 10-point deficit. That is a big difference in the psyche of players’ heads. Those things are critical.”

The Bisons opened with a 4-0 lead in the first half, but fell behind 7-6 at 17:13 and never trailed again.

Forward Brandon Brown, who finished with 10 points, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal, scored the first two points of the second half.

The Bisons shot 46 percent from the field, hitting 29-of-63 shots, but made only four of 21 shots from 3-point range.

“Memphis did a good job of contesting our 3-point shots,” Sanderson said. “It is hard to overcome getting outrebounded by nearly 20 and having a team hit 54 percent from the floor and making 11 threes.”

The Bisons have 18 games in the A-Sun to play with the first two on the road.

“They are obviously going to be very challenging,” Sanderson said. “We just need to get rested up, healed up a little bit and get ready for Stetson.”

Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.