Well folks, as most of the people on the Hill have their eyes on the Bobby Petrino move to Louisville, we still have Topper Basketball to be played! This time Georgia State and company come to take on the Tops in Diddle Arena, which hasn’t been too kind to visiting foes this season as the Tops are 7-1 on John Oldham Cour. We hope this home trend stays true tonight as WKU tries to begin a 3-0 start to their conference play for the second-straight season and third time since the 2008-09 season. However defeating the visiting Panthers won’t be an easy feat as they also look to stay undefeated in conference play. One of these teams will leave the hardwood of Diddle with a conference loss, who will it be? Let’s break things down to get started!
This will mark the second meeting between the Hilltoppers and Panthers, as they have played just once before in the 1983-84 season with WKU taking the win. Georgia state is 9-6 on the season along with a 2-0 start to conference play. Their season didn’t start off too well, as they only claimed victories in two of their first seven games, but they have had a hot streak of late, and are currently on a 6 game win streak. Their conference wins come against Troy (81-72) and South Alabama (73-63), oddly enough, the same two teams the Tops have beaten to open their SBC play. Topper fans who also share allegiance to the Kentucky Wildcats will be able to recognize one of the Panther’s key players, that player being former Wildcat Ryan Harrow. Harrow leads the Panthers in points, as he averages 19.1 PPG. Harrow also stands out with his assists averaging 4.5 per contest. Not far behind Harrow in points averaged is Sophomore Guard R.J. Hunter with 18.9 PPG. WKU will have to make sure to stay out of foul trouble, as both Harrow and Hunter average FT percentages in the 80% margin. As far as rebounding goes the Panther’s leaders include Junior Forward Curtis Washington (6.1 RPG) and Senior Forward Manny Atkins (5.8 RPG). Georgia State looks to be a tough squad as a whole, as they look to keep an unblemished streak in the Sun Belt so far this year.
Now for the Tops! As i mentioned the Tops are 2-0 so far in conference play, but even with that statistic, it doesn’t mean that it was a pretty two wins. In the South Alabama game the Tops played about as sloppy as I’ve seen them play this season. They barely sneaked back in to get the victory. As for the Troy game, the Tops committed 16 personal fouls, and shot just 2 of 13 from behind the arc to squeeze by a lowly Trojan team by nine.
Heading into tonights game, one of the key points I see is to keep out of foul trouble. As I stated above the Panthers have accurate free throw shooters, as a team they have shot 76% over the season. If the Tops have an outing like they did against Troy and commit a high number of fouls, the free throw line could be one of the more lethal methods of attacks for the Panthers. Another need for the Tops is actually being able to put up points. WKU only had one player in double digit scoring against Troy in George Fant. Now the last point I want to emphasize is WKU’s guard play needs to be great on both ends of the court. The Panther’s can go off on a shooting clinic at any point in time. With that being said the Tops need to play good tight defense, especially on the perimeter. Which has been a fairly weak point in a few games this season. If WKU can complete these three points I can see a “W” coming for the Tops once the clock strikes zero.
Tonights action Tips-off at 7PM. Come on out to Diddle to catch a great show! If not, watch the action live on ESPN 3 or on WKU PBS in the Bowling Green area. Which conference unbeaten team will fall tonight? We will have to watch and see! Let’s get loud and show the Panthers what the Hilltopper Nation is made of!