I have to say this for a second time this week, wow, what a game. If you didn’t watch today’s game you sure missed out on a classic college basketball rivalry that wasn’t decided until the closing minutes of the game. The Tops and Racers battled it out for the entirety of the event, creating a very exciting and intense game to watch.
Murray State took control of the ball game to begin with, they had a 24 to 10 lead with 9:23 left in the first half. From then on the Tops began to fight back, slowly but surely. Halftime rounded out a Murray State lead by 5 points; 33 to 28. However halftime didn’t seem to truly help the Racers. The Hilltoppers kept Murray State within striking distance throughout the beginning of the second half. However it wasn’t until 8:18 left in the game did WKU finally impeach the Racers from the lead. From then on the Hilltoppers would maintain the lead for the rest of the contest. They would even reach an 11 point lead at one point in the final stretch. The Racers would try to give themselves a chance as they entered the final minute only down by six. However the Tops wouldn’t linger and they would seal the deal with a seven point victory over the Racers..
WKU moves on from this win with a record of (7-4). Diddle Arena has yet again proved to be unwelcoming to visiting foes this season, as WKU is (6-0) while playing on the Hill.
So now let’s get down to business and look at the highlights to the Topper victory!
I mentioned in the GAMEDAY Preview that T.J. Sapp and Jarvis Williams would be key players to watch out for on the Racer roster, and both did exactly how i thought they would. T.J. Sapp had an even more impressive game today against the Tops than he did Wednesday night against Southern Illinois. Sapp played 34 out of the 40 minutes in the contest. He also shot 8 of 14 from the floor, with 5 of 7 of those coming from behind the three point arch, and also adding 4 of 4 from the free throw line accumulating a total of 25 points. Jarvis Williams was quite impressive as well. Williams came into today’s game averaging 12.2 points/game, doubled that figure today putting up 24 points of his own. He went 9 of 11 from the floor and 6 of 10 from the free throw line. One flaw Williams had today was his inability to recover boards, which i figured wouldn’t be a problem for him due to the fact he averaged 11.2 RPG coming into today’s match-up. However at the end of the day he was only able to find three boards.
Now for the Hilltoppers! The Tops had four players in double digits for scoring today, none other than the same four that brought home the points in Wednesday’s match up against Southern Miss. WKU’s scoring leaders are lead by Chris Harrison-Docks (16 points), T.J. Price (15 points), George Fant (14 points), and Trency Jackson (14 points). The Rebounding leaders were George Fant and T.J. Price with 7 a piece, following right behind was Aleksej Rostov with 6 of his own. As a team the Tops didn’t have as well of a shooting performance as they did the other night, due mostly to a pathetic first half today shooting. However they ended up shooting 26 of 65 (40%) which isn’t great, but they made the shots when it counted in order to win the game, and truly that is what matters most. I was once again impressed with how well the Tops did at the free throw line today, they went 13 of 17 (76.5%). That stat can be huge in close games, and as long as that stat stays high i like our chances of winning games that come down to the wire.
Another stat i liked today was the turnovers. The Tops minimized their turnovers by just allowing nine today. Now yes, nine is still high, but for a team that committed 17 in a game just a few days ago i am proud to say the Tops kept it in the single digits.
One more stat, to which truly i think is what won WKU the game was their offensive rebounds. Just wednesday the Tops only had two offensive boards, which is just terrible. Today on the other hand the Tops fought and won 18 offensive boards! Nearly half of their rebounds came from the offensive end of the court. Which is astounding, and as a Hilltopper fan, it sure is reassuring to know that in big games your front court can produce those numbers in the rebound category.
Overall the Hilltoppers had a great game at home in what was a true rivalry game. Things were intense, and the pressure was on from the start. As i mentioned in my previous Post game report, i still think the addition of Trency Jackson and Chris Harrison-Docks creates a much more dynamic squad. If the Tops are able to continue this kind of offensive play, and are able to clean up a bit overall, i really like where i think this team is headed in conference play and in March. But for now, once again I say we have the reason to celebrate and be proud of the Hilltopper squad and how far they have come already this season!
With today’s win the Tops are now (7-4) while being undefeated at home! WKU will be back in action in Diddle next Saturday! As always Wave The Red Towel will keep you fully covered once game day gets here. Until then, Stand up and Cheer Topper fans!