LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — WKU battled back from a 14-point first-half deficit to tie the game at halftime, but UALR made over 50 percent of its shots from the floor in the second half and earned a 75-67 win over the Hilltoppers Thursday night in Little Rock, Ark. The loss drops WKU to 10-6 overall and 4-1 in conference play, and UALR improves to 9-7 and 3-2.
The loss snaps WKU's eight-game winning streak in the series with UALR and ends the Hilltoppers' unbeaten streak to start conference play, which was its best Sun Belt Conference start since 2005-06. The defeat also snapped WKU's six-game Sun Belt Conference winning streak dating back to the end of last season.
Brandon Harris recorded his second career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and he has now led WKU in rebounding in four-straight games. Harris also played all 40 minutes in the game and has now played all but five minutes of the last six Hilltopper games. Kevin Kaspar had 13 points thanks in part to three three-pointers, and Teeng Akol had 10 points and five rebounds in 26 minutes.
UALR was paced by three players in double figures, led by 13 points by Leroy Isler.
WKU started slow, committing nine early turnovers that led to 11 Trojans points, and the Hilltoppers trailed by as many as 14 points with 9:04 to play in the first.
The Hilltoppers clawed back, finding their rhythm from three-point range and tightening up on defense and tied the game at 36 at intermission. New addition Marcus Vasquez finished the half with a four-point play after being fouled on a three-point try, giving him his first-career points on the hardwood.
WKU scored 12 of the final 16 points of the first half.
WKU ended the half shooting 48.0 percent from the field (12-for-25) and making six three-pointers. UALR shot 12-for-27 in the opening 20 minutes (.444) and forced 10 WKU turnovers in all. Harris, Kaspar and T.J. Price all had eight points for WKU at the half.
WKU took a 43-42 lead with 15:44 to play on a Harris three-pointer, and a Kaspar layup made it a three-point advantage less than two minutes later, but UALR went on a 9-0 run to open up a six-point lead and take control of the game.
The Hilltoppers got as close a three after a Harris layup with 8:30 to go, but the Trojans made free throws down the stretch and earned the eight-point win.
The Hilltoppers shot 37.5 percent in the second half (12-for-32) and made three of 18 three-point attempts in the second 20 minutes (.167). UALR scored 27 points off 22 WKU turnovers and shot 48.1 percent for the game (26-for-54). WKU outrebounded UALR 42-30.
WKU concludes its Arkansas road trip Saturday night at 7:05 at Arkansas State. Saturday's game will be televised nationally on ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court, regionally on WKYU-PBS and in Louisville on WBNA. It is also available on the radio on the Hilltopper IMG Sports Network with Randy Lee and Hal Schmitt on the call.
WKU is back at home on Saturday, January 12 against Florida Atlantic.