Well it wasn’t pretty, but WKU pulled the win out to begin conference play! For what was mostly a sloppy executed game by both teams turned out to remain exciting. It wasn’t until the final second did we know the outcome of the ball game and those are the games I love to watch!
The entire first half included back and forth scoring, with both teams keeping each other close. The largest lead of the first half was just 4 points, with WKU rounding out the first half with just a two point lead. The second half featured once again, sloppy play by the Tops coming out of halftime. South Alabama went on a 10-0 run to start the half and it seemed as if WKU had no answer for the Jags. The Tops remained scoreless in the second half until Fant ended the drought at 14:29 left to play. From then on the Tops would battle back to try and give themselves a chance to sneak back into the game, and yes they did just that. The Tops took back the lead for the first time since halftime with 4:31 to go as T.J. Price sunk one of his three 3 point baskets. Entering the final minute the Tops would hold a two point lead until Mychal Ammons would lay one in tying the ball game at 56 with 34 seconds left. The Tops would then hold the ball until the waning seconds, then CHD drove down the middle and laid in what i think was the play of the game floater to give WKU the lead with 4.3 seconds to go. South Al would give themselves a chance to score but the ball would miss entirely signifying a Hilltopper victory!
The Jaguars would have some key players that helped make this game such a good one. Two of those being players I mentioned as a tough threat for the Tops in the Pre-game article. Augustine Rubit had a decent performance, not entirely what i was expecting from him (10pts; 4 of 13 shooting; 9 rebounds), but his lack of expection from me was made up by the other Key Player i mentioned, Mychal Ammons. Ammons had 15 points, he was 7 of 11 from the floor and 1 of 1 from behind the arch. He also grabbed 4 offensive boards and secured a total of 5 rebounds. Now i figured he would have grabbed a few more boards than what he did (averaging 7.5 RPG), however his overall gameplay and post movement was more of what i was impressed with, along with a good shooting night.
As for WKU as a team, I was quite disappointed. I truly felt like the team that played in Diddle monday night, was not the team that made the trip to play South Al. The guard play that we have seen as a trend here of late was not as vivid as it was against Ole Miss and our past few home stands. However, even with the sloppy play the Tops were able to get the victory, and at the end of the day that is truly what matters. Some of the high points for the Tops included T.J. Price marking his name as the 47th member to WKU’s 1,000 point club. He led the Tops in scoring as he saw 19 points fall in tonight’s win, as well as securing 6 rebounds with 3 of them being on the offensive end. Other scoring leaders included Harrison-Docks with 11 ( 3 of 7 from 3PT range) and Fant with 10 ( shooting 5 of 11) while also grabbing 11 rebounds with 4 of them offensive boards.
Emphasized team totals include 17 offensive rebounds, with having a total of 40 boards. The Tops committed 12 turnovers, nine of those being lost in the first half. Twelve isn’t too much compared to the number 18 which was lost against Ole Miss. The Tops had a poor shooting first half (shooting 35% ( 3PT 14%); and 1 of 4 from FT line), but rebounded in the second half raising the 3 point percentage to 29.2%. That stat still isn’t as good as the 43% from the arch against the Rebels monday, however like I mentioned above, they made the shots when it counted.
WKU was able to open up 2014 and conference play with the win which can give momentum, and momentum can definitely be used when making your way through these next few games. Which all ensure to be tough match-ups for the Tops. After tonights win, the Tops improve to (9-5) on the season as well as just (2-4) on the road. As WKU continues in conference play they will definitely need to make that second record a better one in order to gain confidence for the Conference Tournament.
Topper fans won’t have to wait long at all until WKU finds themselves back on the hardwood at Troy this Saturday at Noon. Until then Hilltopper Nation, Stand Up and Cheer!