BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Despite the calendar having not yet turned to December, WKU begins Sun Belt Conference play this weekend, starting Thursday night at 7:30 at ULM in a rematch of last season’s Sun Belt Conference opener.
WKU has won four of its last five games and 11 of 14 overall and will begin a challenging Sun Belt Conference slate after being picked to finish third in the conference’s east division in the preseason coaches’ poll.
ULM returns one starter and five letterwinners from a team that went 3-26 in 2011-12, and Thursday’s game is its home opener for the 2012-13 season.
This weekend’s games are the final two in a stretch of four of five away from home for the Hilltoppers, who return to Bowling Green next week for two home games.
The game will be televised by the Hilltopper Sports Satellite Network, airing nationally on ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court and locally on WKYU-PBS. It will also be broadcast on the radio on the Hilltopper IMG Sports Network with Randy Lee and Hal Schmitt on the call. Live stats and live audio are available on WKUSports.com.
Tickets for the 2012-13 WKU men's basketball season are available online at WKUSports.com or by visiting the WKU Ticket Office in E.A. Diddle Arena. Fans can also call the ticket office at 1-800-5-BIG RED or 745-5222 locally.
WKU (4-2) at ULM (0-2)
November 29, 2012 // 7:30 PM (CT)
Monroe, La. // Fant-Ewing Coliseum (7,000)
• Thursday’s game is the earliest a conference opener has fallen on the calendar in the 94-year history of WKU basketball.
• WKU has won four of its last five Sun Belt Conference openers, including last year at ULM in overtime, 76-71.
• WKU leads the Sun Belt Conference in rebounding and field goal defense and is second in scoring defense in 2012-13.
• In starting the season 4-2, WKU is averaging nearly 17 points per game more than last year’s 1-5 start, shooting over six percent better from the floor on average and grabbing nearly eight more rebounds per game.
• Five of the eight highest-scoring games of Jamal Crook’s WKU career have come in the first six games of the 2012-13 season.
• Brandon Harris is averaging 9.3 rebounds per game in the last three contests.
• Jamal Crook has led WKU in scoring in five of the first six games of the season.
• WKU is 10-2 under head coach Ray Harper when leading a game with 5:00 remaining.
• The Hilltoppers are 12-1 under head coach Ray Harper when outrebounding their opponent and 12-3 when attempting more free throws than their opponent.
• WKU is 12-5 under head coach Ray Harper when allowing fewer than 70 points in a game.
THE LAST TIME OUT
A stingy WKU defense held Brescia (Ky.) without a field goal for 13:16 at one point Saturday night at E.A. Diddle Arena, and WKU limited Brescia to just 11 field goals in the game and only four inside the three-point line in the 74-46 victory. The Hilltoppers outrebounded the Bearcats 53-30 and forced 15 turnovers. Aleksejs Rostov had a career high 16 points and eight rebounds in 17 minutes Saturday night, and Jamal Crook led WKU in scoring for the fifth time this season with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting. T.J. Price and Teeng Akol were also in double figures for the Hilltoppers with 14 and 11, respectively. Myron Christian led Brescia with 15 points. All 13 available Hilltoppers saw action in the game, with freshmen Eddie Alcantara and Percy Blade scoring their first career points in the contest.
HILLTOPPER INDIVIDUAL TRENDS
• Teeng Akol has started 19-straight games for WKU, and T.J. Price has started 12-in-a-row for the Hilltoppers.
• Teeng Akol is three blocked shots away from tying Lee Lampley (1997-2000) for 10th place on WKU’s career blocked shots list.
• Jamal Crook has had 18 double digit scoring games in 41 games since the start of his junior season after having just one in 63 games in his freshman and sophomore seasons.
• George Fant has had at least 10 points in eight of his last 11 games.
• T.J. Price has hit multiple three-pointers in 15 of the last 21 games.
• Caden Dickerson has made 55 of his last 66 free throw attempts (.833).
HILLTOPPER TEAM TRENDS
• WKU has used three different starting lineups in six games in 2012-13
• WKU has won eight-straight home games after losing four-in-a-row before that.
• WKU’s current eight-game home winning streak is its longest since winning 15-in-a-row at E.A. Diddle Arena spanning the end of the 2007-08 season (1), the entire 2008-09 season (13) and the start of the 2009-10 campaign (1).
• WKU has won 11 of its last 14 games.
• In the last 22 games, WKU is holding opponents to 64.9 points per game and is 15-7 in that stretch.
• WKU has come back to win seven of the last 11 times it has trailed at halftime, compared to losing 12-straight in that situation before that.
• WKU has faced a double-digit deficit at one point in 30 of its last 37 losses dating back to the start of the 2010-11 season.
• In 73 games since the start of the 2010-11 season, WKU has trailed at halftime 42 times (11-31 in those games).
• The Hilltoppers have advanced to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament eight-straight times and in 21 instances in 30 years as a member of the league dating to 1983.
• WKU has won at least one game in each of its last three NCAA Tournament appearances (2008, 2009, 2012).
• Since 1993 WKU has seven NCAA Tournament wins to its credit, and the rest of the Sun Belt Conference is a combined 0-14.