The regular season is over…it is hard to believe it has come and gone. Today the Tops kept things on reserve…while it was unsuspected…it was a great decision.
Things stayed relatively close early until GSU went on a small run, building a 10 point lead. From then on, to put it simply the Panthers just maintained enough cushion and the Hilltoppers weren’t able to take any of that cushion away.
GSU kept things the way they have all season…relying primarily on their guards. The 3 guards I mentioned in the pre game post accumulated 51 of the Panthers 73 points. Those players being Ryan Harrow (20pts), Devonta White (19pts) and R.J. Hunter (12pts). As a team the Panthers shot well below their season average from the floor, as they ended up with just 39% of their shots entering the basket. GSU played well defensively, only allowing a very good Topper rebounding squad to 11 offensive boards. The Panthers were just a little bit better than the Hilltoppers…as expected since they are the number one team in the SBC.
As for the Tops…I’m sure they wanted to win…but this game didn’t mean anything so it seemed as if there was a lack of true intensity from the squad. The Tops two leading scorers…T.J. Price and George Fant both sat this game out due to pains. So from the get-go with that announcement prior to the game, I figured this one would just be a cruise to the finish.
Now I’m not saying the Tops didn’t play hard…because that is far from reality…both teams gave it their all. But this game was more to finish out the season, and get some other players playing time. For instance Ben Lawson hadn’t seen court time in 8 games…he ended up being on the floor for 24 minutes.
I think this game could have been a little bit of a morale booster as well. Why you ask? The Panthers played their normal leaders…while the Tops didn’t. Even without the leading scorers, the guys on the court for WKU were able to keep up with the Panthers and even get within 9 at point in the second half. Thus meaning, with the Panthers being the team the Tops would most likely see in the SBC Championship game, it gives the team confidence that if the Tops are able to keep up with GSU without their main scorers, then theoretically WKU can beat them with their main scorers.
Like I said, it is hard to believe the season has come and gone, but it sure enough has. The Hilltoppers finish their regular season with a record of 20-11 and a conference record of 12-6. WKU will receive a double bye in the conference tournament for being the number 2 seed and won’t have to play until the semifinals next Saturday at 4:30. WTRT will have your complete Sun Belt Tourney coverage so check back in next week to get caught up on everything the SBC has to offer. Until then, have a great rest of the weekend.