BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — With just nine games remaining in the 2012-13 regular season, WKU closes the month of January with a Thursday night contest against Sun Belt Conference East Division foe Troy at 7:00.
The Hilltoppers earned a 75-71 win at Troy on December 1, snapping a four-game losing streak in Troy, and the Hilltoppers will have a week in between games before heading to North Texas next Thursday.
WKU has dropped six of the last seven games overall and is in the middle of its third three-game losing streak of the season, but the Hilltoppers have never lost four-in-a-row under head coach Ray Harper.
T.J. Price poured in 21 points at Troy in December, and he is now averaging 15.3 points per game in three outings against Troy in his career. In four of the last five home games against Troy, WKU has triumphed by at least 18 points.
Thursday's game will be televised by the Hilltopper Sports Satellite Network, airing nationally on ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court, locally on WKYU-PBS and in Louisville on WBNA. 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.
Thursday is Faculty/Staff Night, and WKU faculty and staff members can receive a free reserved ticket by coming to the WKU Ticket Office before gameday. Also, on Thrifty Thursday, fans can purchase two reserved bleacher seats for $15.00 or four reserved bleacher seats for $30.00. The Hilltopper Express Deal is available at the concession stands, which is one hot dog, one bag of popcorn and one bottle of soda for $7.00.
The Bello Brothers from Italy will be in town performing at halftime as well. The duo has been performing for Cirque du Soleil's production of Varekai and specializes in a combination of acrobatics and juggling, all with their feet. A "50 Seasons of Diddle Arena" replica of the arena will be given out to the first 1,000 fans.
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 (11-11, 5-6 SBC) vs. Troy (9-12, 4-6 SBC)
January 31, 2013 // 7:00 PM (CT)
Bowling Green, Ky. // E.A. Diddle Arena (7,326)
• WKU has won 13 of its last 15 home games.
• A win on Thursday would give WKU a regular-season sweep of Troy for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
• Brandon Harris has led WKU in rebounding in eight of the last 10 games and in scoring and rebounding in the same game four times this season.
• WKU’s rebounding average of 37.6 per game is its best since the 2003-04 squad pulled down 38.8 rebounds per game as a team.
• WKU’s scoring margin is 6.3 points per game better than at this point one season ago.
• T.J. Price ranks eighth in the Sun Belt Conference in scoring in conference games.
• The combined record of the five non-conference teams that defeated WKU in 2012-13 is 78-25 (Southern Miss, 17-4; Iowa, 13-7; Murray State, 15-5; VCU, 16-5; Louisville, 17-4).
• Brandon Harris has played all but 21 minutes of the last 12 Hilltopper games.
• Teeng Akol is four blocked shots away from tying Mike Wells (2001-04) for seventh place on WKU’s career blocked shots list with 92.
• With a win on January 17, WKU matched last season’s regular season win total 40 days earlier than earning last season’s 11th victory.
• WKU was one of just 19 schools in the nation to have both its men’s and women’s basketball teams enter January 1 with 10 or more victories.
THE LAST TIME OUT
WKU stayed within two possessions of Middle Tennessee until midway through the second half, but a 19-3 Blue Raider run put distance between the two teams and powered Middle Tennessee to a 72-53 win Saturday afternoon in Murfreesboro. Despite the defeat, WKU still leads the all-time series between the two rivals 92-36. Middle Tennessee has now won 24-straight regular season games at the Murphy Center. Kevin Kaspar led WKU with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting, and Stephon Drane added nine in 10 minutes off the bench. Middle Tennessee was paced by 15 points by Marcos Knight and 10 and seven rebounds by Bruce Massey. Kaspar buried a three-pointer to make the score 42-36 Middle Tennessee with 14:01 left in the game, but from there the Blue Raiders scored 14-straight points and 19 of the next 22 to open up a 61-39 lead.
HILLTOPPER INDIVIDUAL TRENDS
• Brandon Harris has 35 assists and just 13 turnovers in conference games, and he is averaging 35.0 minutes per game in those contests.
• Brandon Harris is averaging 11.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in the last five games after contributing 3.7 points per game in the first nine contests of the season.
• George Fant has started each of his last 31 games played.
• T.J. Price has scored in double figures in 16 of his last 21 games.
• George Fant has had at least 10 points in 19 of his last 27 games.
• George Fant has had at least one steal in four of the last six games.
• O’Karo Akamune has made eight of his last 11 shots from the floor.
• Jamal Crook needs one assist to tie Anthony Palm (1990-91) for ninth place on WKU’s career assists list at 308.
HILLTOPPER TEAM TRENDS
• WKU has committed at least 10 turnovers in 11-straight games.
• Through 10 home games, WKU is averaging 1,261 more fans per game than last season.
• In its current stretch of losing six of seven games, WKU is shooting 39.6 percent from the floor in the final 10 minutes of games and allowing opponents to shoot 48.9 percent.
• WKU has used 12 different starting lineups in 22 games in 2012-13.
• WKU is 18-8 under head coach Ray Harper when allowing fewer than 70 points in a game.
• WKU has made at least five three-pointers in 12 of the last 16 games.
• WKU has outrebounded 13 of its last 18 opponents and is 19-5 under head coach Ray Harper when doing so.
• Five different Hilltoppers have missed at least one game this season due to injury, comprising four would-be starters and a key reserve (Crook, Price, Snipes, Fant, Dickerson).
• WKU has come back to win eight of the last 19 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 38 of its last 46 losses dating back to the start of the 2010-11 season.
• WKU earned 10 wins before January 1 for the first time since 2006-07.
• WKU’s 4-0 start to Sun Belt Conference play was its best since 2005-06.
• 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.