Here we go Hilltopper fans, it is a Thursday here on the hill and that spells out GAMEDAY! Conference play is well under way, statements have been made and stories have been written about the quality of each respective team. We will see two teams that definitely have a story behind them, and both look to either change or continue that story on the hardwood in Diddle arena tonight. The Hilltoppers have been streaky even at home, and want to change that into a more solid conference record. The Mavericks started at the bottom of the SBC, but after winning four of their last five games, as well as having a three game win streak, they look to keep up the pace as they look for redemption to a slow conference start. The stories will collide tonight and it looks to be quite the novel! So let’s get down to business and see how the pages may turn!
Texas-Arlington comes into tonight’s match-up with a SBC record of 4-3. They are currently on a three game win streak, those wins coming against Texas State, Troy, and South Alabama. You may say “that win streak doesn’t look impressive”. Well the quality wins may not impress you, but this stat just might. In those three victories the Mavericks held their opponents to an average score of 56.3, as well as keeping each of those teams to under 40% shooting. Another point that gives UTA a little more potency coming into this game is Senior guard Reger Dowell has added a new dynamic to this squad. Since Dowell’s return from a leg injury, Texas-Arlington is 3-0 with him also leading the points categories each of those games, with him also reaching the 20 point mark twice in those contests. Dowell also is the SBC’s leading scorer, as well as being ranked 14th nationally. So yes, this guy is very dynamic and potent which could definitely cause a setback for the Tops. Another standout to watch out for is Senior forward Brandon Edwards as he is averaging 16.1 PPG as well as 9.6 RPG. Edwards is ranked 3rd in the SBC in rebounding, as well as 25th nationally. While some teams may have overlooked this squad and could continue to overlook the Mavs, I think this team is a very scary opponent, based off of my sole prediction that we haven’t seen them play near their best ball… just saying.
Now for the Hilltoppers! WKU has been putting up some big individual numbers here of late, but that could be challenged tonight when the Tops meet the Maverick defense. WKU’s big performers from the Louisiana road trip last week include T.J. Price with 26 points against ULM on Thursday, along with George Fant (25 points), Chris Harrison-Docks (18 points), and Trency Jackson (17 points) all putting up big numbers Saturday against ULL. However, those numbers were put up last week… and this week could bring lower stat lines as the UTA defense has been merciless in their past three outings. In those three contests the Mavs haven’t allowed their opponent to go over 40% in the shooting category. That meaning UTA is going to have to be off their game, or the Tops are going to have to find a way to score this evening.
WKU will have to be on top of their own game tonight in order to not allow this one to slip away from them. They will have to as usual limit turnovers, and maximize on opponents turnovers. As well as maximizing on every 50/50 ball. My key to this game is to capitalize on every possession possible, who ever has the least mistakes on the night will win the ball game. I think this is a game the Tops should win, but I definitely think UTA will bring more power than most will expect.
My starting line-up includes Jackson, Harrison-Docks, T.J. Price, Fant, and Rostov. These players have been key performers in SBC play and I look to see that trend continue tonight!
Tonight looks to be an exciting match-up and one that you won’t want to miss! So make your way on down to Diddle at 7PM sharp to catch all of the action. Both teams come into this one with three game win streaks… one of those have to fall. Be there folks! Stand Up and Cheer!