Well Hilltopper fans I still can’t believe it happened, but I woke up today and looked at the results, and sure enough it was still there. WKU lost to South Alabama one week ago today, and I’m still in utter shock. That makes today’s matchup that much more important. With Georgia State and Louisiana-Lafayette playing tonight as well (1st and 3rd in SBC Rankings), if they Tops can pull out the victory it will definitely place some cushion on their second place ranking. With that being said, let’s break this matchup down!
The Warhawks come into tonight’s event ranked 7th in the Sun Belt with a record of 5-8 during conference play. ULM was unable to do anything with the Tops earlier this season, and i’m not too sure if they will be able to do much today (but…I said the same thing against South Al and that bit us in the butt).
Some key players that will lead the Warhawk’s offensive unit is Tylor Ongwae. He is the high points man averaging 16.6 PPG. Ongwae has put up double digit points in every single SBC contest this season, including two 27 point games, two 25 point games, and a single 24 point game. He also likes to tack on some boards to his stat line as he is averaging 5.8 per game this season.
Ongwae will definitely need some help tonight if the Warhawks want to make an impact, and that man will need to be senior forward Jayon James. James has been a streaky presence this season, but will need to be solid for ULM tonight if they want the dub. He is averaging 9.8 PPG along with 6.3 RPG.
Now for the Tops! WKU has won the last seven meetings between the squads, and the Tops NEED to extend that streak to eight. Their confidence has to be shot after the South Al loss, and this is a game where the Tops need to excel, and have a huge opportunity to excel. Want to know why? Of course you do, other wise you wouldn’t be reading this!
T.J. Price has played 5 career games against the Warhawks, and in those events he is averaging 19.6 PPG and is ABOVE 50% from behind the arc. As for George Fant, he also likes his match ups against ULM, as he has a field goal percentage of 60.6% on 11.8 PPG as well as 6.8 rebounds averaged in those events.
Normally I preach on how the Tops need to protect the ball and limit turnovers, and need to find offensive boards, however those aren’t my key points for tonights game. Considering WKU only turned the ball over 5 times and found 15 offensive boards in the loss to South Al, i’m pretty sure the Hilltoppers can attempt to get those numbers again against ULM. However, the key points for this game are simple…find and make easy shots…and keep your heads up. The Tops overall shot terribly across the stat line against the Jags which ultimately resulted in the loss. WKU needs to find their easy shots, make them, then get their confidence level back up to where they can play in a rhythm and allow their offensive cylinders to get going full force. This Hilltopper team has a lot of potential and can win the Sun Belt tournament, but without momentum building and consistency showing prior to the event, WKU could very easily drop the first game they play as a loss.
All the Tops need to do today is play like they are capable and this thing will be a blowout. However, due to their lack of playing like their should, this game should feature a somewhat close game down to the end.
Tonight’s starting five is up in the air, there are a few lineups I could see Coach Harper place out on the floor. But for the sake of predicting I think Coach will keep the same five he has been starting, CHD, Dickerson, T.J. Price, Aaron Adeoye, and Fant.
Be sure to make your way down to Diddle Arena this evening as things tip-off at 7 PM sharp! Bring your red towels and be ready to stand up and cheer! See you there folks!