Well Hilltopper fans, a week has passed since the embarrassment of a game the Tops suffered against Georgia State. Tonight comes the answer to the question i’ve been asking myself all week, “Have the Tops learned from that loss, and will they move forward?”. What will that answer be? We will be finding out shortly as it is GAMEDAY here on the HILL! Let’s gear up and get down to business as we break this match-up down!
So, what is at stake in tonight’s matchup? Us here at WTRT have these two teams marked as the 3rd and 4th ranked teams in the SBC (for full rankings click here). Both teams come into this game with one loss recorded in Sun Belt play, with both of their losses coming last week. With these two teams not wanting to fall to two losses, as well as trying to gain back momentum, I suspect that this game will feature non-stop effort. Especially with both UALR and WKU being ranked in the top 3 in SBC field goal percentage defense (2nd Trojans: .425; 3rd Tops: .428). So with both of these teams wanting to stay towards the top of the Sun Belt standings, it will be a dog fight to the finish with this one in Diddle!
So what do the Trojans bring to the table in this fight? Their overall record is 8-8 and is 3-1 in SBC play. UALR has seen some tough opponents this season, with most of their big games being marked as a loss. Some of their quality losses include Florida, Middle Tennessee, Oklahoma, Memphis, and Southern Miss. With Troy giving them their one SBC loss. Sun Belt win’s include victories over Texas State, Texas-Arlington, and South Alabama. The Trojans truly have only one standout performer in my eyes, that being Senior Forward Will Neighbour. Neighbour averages 16.9 PPG along with grabbing 7.4 RPG. As a team, their shooting defense is stout and will provide a true challenge for the Hilltopper guards. They also have shown the ability to shoot from the outside (34% from 3 PT range on the season). The FT line is an asset for the Trojans, however i don’t think it will be near as lethal as Georgia State made it (averaging 71% from FT line). Arkansas-Little Rock is a good team, as a whole. However I don’t think they are a team that has a high probability of staying towards the top of the Sun Belt Standings.
Now for WKU! To be honest, i don’t know what Hilltopper team will show up on the court tonight. All i know is that if they play like the team they should be, then tonight should conclude as a victory for the Tops. My game plan for WKU tonight? In order to get the victory the Tops will have to be able to shoot way better than their season average, that being 40%. If the Tops don’t shoot better than that mark, i can still see the Tops getting the dub, but they will have to make sure the Trojans are off their shooting game as well. I see tonight’s game being more of a defensive game so you better bet I will be preaching my famous sermon. For those who keep up with WTRT every game, you ought to know what that sermon is. For those who don’t, that sermon is being able to crash the offensive boards and limit turnovers! The Tops were able to find 22 offensive rebounds against GSU in that loss, however it is hard for those rebounds to be effective when they are cancelled out by 16 turnovers, and not to mention a 28.6% shooting percentage.
So, to put it more simply. To get a Topper victory WKU must (1) Shoot very well in general, (2) Crash the offensive boards, (3) Maximize their field goal defensive pressure, and (4) limit personal turnovers while capitalizing on opponents turnovers.
WKU has won nine of it’s last 12 home games! So we will have to see if the trend of winning on the Diddle hardwood will continue tonight! You won’t want to miss out on what is sure to be an exciting top of the Sun Belt match-up! 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. I will also have the In Game posts coming your way on the Live Thread and on the WTRT twitter as usual! So let’s get loud and cheer the Tops to the victory! Stand Up and Cheer!