Dec 18, 2013; Bowling Green, KY, USA; A general view of E.A. Diddle Arena prior to the game between the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

GAMEDAY! WKU vs. Murray State

Well everyone it is GAMEDAY for the second time this week on the Hill! You better buckle your seat belt because things could get interesting! Why? Because the Hilltoppers will be in one of college basketball’s longest rivalries as WKU takes on in-state and former OVC foe Murray State this afternoon at 1 PM! So let’s break things down!

The Tops come into this game with a little momentum as they beat Southern Miss in a evenly matched game earlier this week, but i don’t think momentum alone can carry them to a victory. Murray State is ranked 2nd in the West division of the Ohio Valley Conference with a record of (5-5). The Racers have had some tough match-ups early this season as they played a decent Auburn team, losing to the Tigers by a mere 8 points. Two more losses come against an (9-0) Saint Mary’s squad and a (8-3) Middle Tennessee team. Murray State played and beat Southern Illinois earlier this week, a team that WKU also had an easy win against earlier this month.

Some key players to keep an eye for on the Racers’ squad include newly eligible Clemson transfer Junior  T.J. Sapp. He had a good showing Wednesday night against Southern Illinois as his first time wearing the Racer uniform. He shot 3 of 4 from the floor and 7 of 7 from the free throw line to accumulate 15 points, with 2 of his field goals coming from behind the arch. Another player the Tops need to shut down is Freshman guard Cameron Payne, as he is averaging 14.1 points/game, 2.8 rebounds/game, and 5.6 assists/game. Also WKU’s front court will have their work cut out for them as they will have to battle for boards with Junior Jarvis Williams who is averaging 11.2 rebounds/game.

Today the Tops need to focus on minimizing turnovers which has been an issue all season long. WKU had 17 turnovers Wednesday against Southern Miss, and are averaging 15 turnovers/game. Also the Tops need to limit second chance opportunities for their opponent, as the Racers are averaging 11.9 offensive rebounds/game. I feel that if WKU is able to complete both of these tasks, then their offense will correspond with their defensive play. The Hilltoppers offense needs to have the same showing it had against the Golden Eagles the other night, and I’m hoping ill be able to use my phrase “C-H-D for THREE!” multiple times today.

This game will surely be another page for the history books in this long rivalry’s story. The first meeting between the Tops and Racer’s was January 25th, 1932. WKU leads the all time series 97-53, which includes a 58-13 advantage at home. This game is sure to be intense, due to the fact that since 2000, eight of the 11 meetings between these teams have been concluded by 12 or fewer points. So folks, this game should be some fun!

Well, i guess it is time for me to attempt to predict the line-up for the tops! I think Coach Harper will stick closely to what he put on the floor against Southern Miss. So my prediction will be Brandon Harris, Trency Jackson, T.J. Price, George Fant, and Aleksej Rostov.

Like usual, our live thread will be up shortly, and we will be live tweeting over at the WTRT twitter account. Catch the live action at Diddle, or from the comfort of your home on ESPN 3 or on WKU PBS in the Bowling Green area at 1 this afternoon! Lets make the Hill roar Topper fans and claim bragging rights for the year to a historic rivalry! Stand up and Cheer!

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Tags: Gameday Hilltoppers Western Kentucky Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

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