BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU concluded the exhibition portion of its 2012-13 schedule Saturday night with an 83-71 win over Kentucky Wesleyan in front of a crowd of 4,576 at E.A. Diddle Arena. The Hilltoppers head into the regular season on the heels of two wins in the preseason, including Monday's 84-46 triumph over Campbellsville (Ky.).
The Hilltoppers have now won 18-straight exhibition games and are 49-4 all-time in preseason tune-ups.
Nine different Hilltoppers had at least five points in the game, led by Jamal Crook and George Fant, who each had 14. O'Karo Akamune and Caden Dickerson added 11 and 10, respectively, and Akamune and Brandon Harris had eight rebounds apiece. Four Panthers were in double figures as well, paced by Donovan Johnson's game-high 19 tallies.
Fant and Teeng Akol each added three blocked shots on the defensive end, and seven different Hilltoppers recorded an assist. WKU finished with 13 assists on 25 made baskets. Kentucky Wesleyan's Cornbread Walker and Kreig Oxley came in to the game averaging 21.5 points per game combined during Kentucky Wesleyan's two previous exhibition games, but WKU held the duo to just one field goal and five Oxley points Saturday night.
After trailing by five with 10:59 left in the first half, WKU closed the opening 20 minutes on a 22-6 run to take a 44-32 halftime lead. Kentucky Wesleyan started the game with seven makes in its first 13 shots from the field, but the Hilltopper defense locked down and caused Kentucky Wesleyan to finish the half going just 2-for-14 from the floor.
WKU extended its run into the second half by scoring the first eight points after intermission, pushing the scoring streak to 30-6 when it was all said and done.
That was the turning point in the game, as the Hilltoppers extended their lead to as large as 20 during the run. Kentucky Wesleyan chipped away down the stretch, bringing the game to its final margin of 83-71.
In the game, WKU saw 34 points come from its bench. WKU shot 47.2 percent from the field (25-for-53), and Kentucky Wesleyan came in at 39.3 percent (22-for-56). The Hilltoppers forced 17 Panther turnovers and converted them into 18 points, and the Hilltoppers made nine three-pointers compared to two for Kentucky Wesleyan.
With the crowd of 4,576 Saturday night, WKU averaged 4,124 fans per game for its two exhibition games.
The Hilltoppers begin the 2012-13 regular season next Saturday, November 10, when they travel to Southern Miss. The game will be available over the radio on the Hilltopper IMG Sports Network, with tip-off slated for 7:30 PM.
WKU's regular-season home opener is Tuesday, November 13 against Austin Peay. Tickets for the 2012-13 WKU basketball season are on sale now and can be purchased online at WKUSports.com or by calling the WKU Ticket Office at 1-800-5-BIG RED or 745-5222 locally.