The day has come…the game I have been anxiously awaiting has arrived! To summarize the importance of this game, all you have to say is…the battle for the number 2 seed in New Orleans. Tonight whoever wins the game, will most likely hold that 2 seed in the SBC tourney. Both teams realize the importance of this game…thus making it one heck of a night!
The last contest between these two squads came down to free throws…and awesome performances by a few Hilltoppers to steal the win at in the Cajundome. The Tops would win by 9…adding a convincing win to an unpredictable WKU squad.
The question I pose now, is what kind of a night will we see? WKU has been streaky all season long, playing equally to their opponents…or getting blown out by their opponents. Louisiana-Lafayette on the other hand was just an average team up until the past month…since then they have mounted a six game winning streak that would be ended to the top of the Sun Belt GSU. ULL also beat a South Alabama squad earlier this week by 28…the same Jaguar team that beat WKU at home in embarrassing fashion just a few weeks ago. So basically this game is going to be interesting…whether it will be one of the best games the SBC has seen all season…or just a flop. Only the night will tell!
The Ragin Cajuns bring with them a stout offense that is looking to humiliate the Hilltopper defense. First round NBA Draft prospect Elfrid Payton has been a dominating factor for ULL all season and looks to continue his reign this evening. Payton is averaging 19 PPG, 5.7 RPG, as well as 6 APG. He wasn’t as prominent in the win against South Al earlier this week, but I expect him to come out on all cylinders tonight. Payton is also helped by sophomore forward Shawn Long. Long is putting up 19.5 PPG with 10.4 RPG. These two players together are lethal and are very hard to be stopped, in order for WKU to win, they will have to figure out how specifically to shut these guys down.
As a team, as far as stats go…ULL is the best team by far in the Sun Belt. The Cajuns are 12th in the nation in points per game (81.9)…51st in rebounds per game (37.6)…93rd in assists (13.9)…and 44th in field goal percentage (.472). Although their record might not say they are the best team…they have and will continue to prove it…especially now that we are in March.
Now for WKU…if you are a Hilltopper fan…you will need to be praying for the 4 wins in 4 days team shows up this evening. This is probably the biggest game the Tops will play in so far this season…based on the sole fact of fighting for the number 2 seed.
Western has been streaky all season long…but in order to get the victory tonight…that type of play will have to be far away from Diddle Arena. What do the Tops need to do in order to win? Obviously their shots need to be falling…their defense has to be stout…but most importantly…out hustle the Cajuns. That means every 50/50 ball has to be won…fully blocking out every possession…basically out playing ULL in every category and fragment of the game.
Tonight, not one player needs to standout on the stats. The Hilltoppers as a TEAM need to stand out. In games where everyone has contributed and put up good amounts in multiple categories we have seen WKU victories. That is what must be done to get the dub. One last thing that will be needed to get the win…the Tops must keep their heads UP! In every shot they shoot, have confidence it will fall. In every foul called on them, maintain composure. With every turnover, next offensive possession, don’t make the same mistake. You get the picture…the Tops must stay positive at all times and have confidence in their game play.
As for the WKU starters, I think Harper will put the most lethal offensive weapons the Tops have on the court. Those players being CHD, Trency Jackson, T.J. Price, George Fant, and Daouda Soumaoro for size.
Tonight should be a good ball game…and should be an exciting one for the Hilltopper crowd! It’s the last home outing for the Tops and more importantly for the Hilltopper seniors! Come out and support the Seniors and cheer on the Hilltoppers to victory! Things get under way on the Diddle hardwood at 7 PM sharp! See you there!