BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — For the first time since 2001-02 WKU ends the Sun Belt Conference regular season with back-to-back home games, kicking off Thursday night against Arkansas State in Ray Harper’s first game as full-time head coach after 11 games with the interim title.
The Hilltoppers have won three-straight home games and will try to move in a positive direction towards next week’s Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Hot Springs, Ark., after losing three of the last four games. Four of the last seven WKU losses have come by six points or fewer and two of those by one possession.
WKU is 17-1 all-time at home against Arkansas State and has won the last 10 games contested in E.A. Diddle Arena, with the only home defeat against Arkansas State coming on January 24, 1998.
The Hilltoppers have surrendered a 30-point scorer to the Red Wolves in each of the last two regular-season meetings, with Trey Finn going for 30 on 10-of-16 shooting and seven three-pointers in Jonesboro last year and Brandon Reed scoring 30 in Jonesboro on February 20, 2010.
Thursday's game is produced by the Hilltopper Sports Satellite Network and will be televised nationally on Fox College Sports and DirecTV channel 617 and locally in Bowling Green on WKYU-PBS. Randy Lee will be doing the play-by-play with Hal Schmitt providing the expert analysis.
The game will be broadcast on the radio on the Hilltopper IMG Sports Network with Lee and Schmitt on the call. WKUSports.com offers a video webcast, audio streaming and live stats for the game.
Tickets for all WKU men's basketball games in 2011-12 can be purchased online at WKUSports.com or at the WKU Ticket Office in E.A. Diddle Arena. Phone orders can also be placed by calling 1-800-5-BIG RED or 745-5222 locally.
Complete game notes are available at the link at the top of the page.
WKU (9-18, 5-9 SBC) vs. Arkansas State (12-17, 6-8 SBC)
February 23, 2012 // 7:00 PM (CT)
E.A. Diddle Arena (7,326) // Bowling Green, Ky.
• Derrick Gordon is the only Sun Belt Conference freshman to be averaging at least 11.5 points per game this season.
• WKU is shooting 75.8 percent from the free throw line (75-for-99) in the final five minutes of conference games.
• WKU is 4 for its last 26 (.154) from three-point range over two games after making nearly seven three-pointers per game in the five contests prior.
• George Fant has led WKU in rebounding in six of the last eight games.
• The Hilltoppers are 6-0 this season when allowing fewer than 60 points in a game and 3-18 when surrendering 60 or more.
• WKU is the only Sun Belt Conference school with two players in the top-7 in rebounding this season (Fant, 6th; Gordon, 7th).
• WKU is averaging 13.0 turnovers in the last 10 games, compared to 16.8 miscues earlier this season.
• WKU is 4-9 in its last 13 regular-season games versus the Sun Belt Conference east.
• Since the start of the 2010-11 season, WKU is 16-7 when Jamal Crook has at least four assists and 8-2 when he and Kahlil McDonald combine to dish out at least eight assists.
• WKU has lost 14 of its last 17 games away from home.
THE LAST TIME OUT
WKU led by eight points with just under 6:00 left in the game, but South Alabama scored 18 of the game’s final 23 points to capture a 66-61 win Saturday night in Mobile, Ala. Derrick Gordon led WKU with 16 points and nine rebounds, and Jamal Crook had 14 points and three assists. Teeng Akol was also in double figures for WKU with 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting. South Alabama was paced by Mychal Ammons’ 17 points, and Sun Belt Conference Preseason Player of the Year Augustine Rubit had 10 points and 13 rebounds. Javier Carter added 10 and 10 for the Jaguars as well. South Alabama outrebounded WKU in the game 48-35 and had 18 offensive rebounds. WKU shot 41.3 percent for the game, and South Alabama finished at 37.1 percent.
HILLTOPPER INDIVIDUAL TRENDS
• T.J. Price has hit multiple three-pointers in five of the last seven games and at least three in four of the last six.
• George Fant is averaging 11.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game over the last five games..
• Jamal Crook is averaging 12.0 points per game in the last eight games and is shooting 40.0 percent from the floor in that span (38-of-95).
• Teeng Akol is averaging 8.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game in wins.
• T.J. Price is averaging 10.3 points per game on the road this season and has hit 37.5 percent of his three-point tries.
• Jamal Crook has had 12 10-plus point scoring games in his last 18 after entering this season with just one in two previous years.
• A freshman has led WKU in scoring in 17 of the last 19 contests.
• Nigel Snipes has converted on 14 of his last 15 free throw tries.
• Derrick Gordon has played at least 30 minutes in 22 of the last 26 games.
• George Fant has had 16 games of at least six points and six rebounds this season.
HILLTOPPER TEAM TRENDS
• In the last seven games, WKU is holding opponents to 64.4 points per game while forcing an average of nearly 15 turnovers a contest.
• WKU is surrendering an average of 16.0 points off turnovers in the last seven games.
• The opponent’s leading scorer has had at least 20 points in four of the last seven contests.
• The Hilltoppers are first in the Sun Belt Conference in free throw percentage, third in assist-to-turnover ratio and fourth in assists per game and fifth in scoring in conference games.
• WKU is in the top-half of 11 of 21 conference statistical categories in league games.
• The Hilltoppers have had 14 or fewer turnovers in eight of the last 10 games.
• Derrick Gordon is the only Hilltopper to have started each of the first 27 games of the year.
• The Hilltoppers have used 13 different starting lineups in 27 games played.
• Five different Hilltoppers have missed at least one of the first 27 games of the season due to injury, and three others have been unavailable for games at various points.
• WKU has started four freshmen eight times this season (2-6 record when doing so).
• Seven different players have led WKU in scoring this season after four did so in 2010-11.
• WKU has scored 60 or fewer points seven times in 27 games played this season, topping its total from the entire 2010-11 campaign (6).
• WKU’s 18 losses in 2011-12 have come by an average of 10.4 points, and its nine wins have been by an average of 7.2 per.
• WKU has faced a double-digit deficit at one point in 27 of its last 34 losses dating back to the start of the 2010-11 season.
• In 59 games since the start of the 2010-11 season, WKU has trailed at halftime 34 times (6-28 in those games).
• The Hilltoppers have advanced to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament seven-straight times and in 20 instances in 29 years as a member of the league dating to 1983.