THAT is why we love basketball.
It wasn’t the great win we saw in Monroe, where the Tops lead (nearly) wire-to-wire, had fun on the floor, and all but walked away with it. On the flip side, it also wasn’t the great win we saw either in Lafayette or on Thursday against UT-Arlington, in which poor play out of the gate resulted in a huge early deficit, but the boys were able to rally and steal a victory.
No, no, no. This was a great basketball game. Had WKU been unsuccessful and faltered, it still would have been a great game, just a disappointing outcome. But, luckily, the Hilltoppers are on the right side of this one, as this is a game that fans haven’t seen for a while.
Western Kentucky (15-7, 7-2) was lead by 21 huge points from George Fant, who played, in some aspects, a better game than his 25 point performance in Lafayette, but was just as integral in the success of the Tops on the floor (at least in the early going). Fant was joined in double digits by 13 from T.J. Price and 12 from Caden Dickerson, who shot lights out from beyond the arc, and all of his 12 points coming via the triple.
George also finished the night with 5 boards, tying Brandon Harris. The Tops were lead in rebounds, once again, by O’karo Akamune, who has come up big in these last two games since Alex Rostov has gone down. Akamune finished with 9 boards. In all, WKU grabbed 31 rebounds, beating out the Bobcats by 5.
Texas State (2-6, 6-15) really did play a great game – they had two guys nearly hit 20 (Joel Wright with 18 and Wes Davis with 16), had Emani Gant lead the team in rebounding with 6, shot 46.8% from the floor (compared to the Tops’ 45%) and 83% from the free throw line (a number much better than WKU’s, that we’re too embarrassed to share with you). They applied pressure when and where it was needed, and was able to tame the rowdy 5,514 in E.A. Diddle Arena tonight.
But, when all was said and done, it was the depth and experience of the Hilltopper squad, something that has been talked about all season long as to why this WKU squad is better than last years, or even 2011’s.
The way the Tops have been playing during this stretch is inspiring, and they’re getting it done in many different ways. It’s not ideal (ie the Ragin Cajun and Mavericks games), but they’re getting it done, and that’s all that matters in the standings.