BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — One of the most historic venues in all of college basketball, E.A. Diddle Arena, will be entering its 50th season as the home of WKU basketball in 2012-13, and WKU Athletics has planned a celebration that will span the entire upcoming season.
Each month of the men's basketball season and multiple times during the women's season, WKU Athletics will hold a game with a "50 Seasons of Diddle Arena" promotion or themed event. Fans will have the opportunity to re-live arena memories at other games throughout the season in the form of game programs and PA reads, and other special events could be added to the season celebration.
Fans purchasing season tickets for Hilltopper and Lady Topper basketball will notice images of great Hilltopper and Lady Topper coaches and players and pictures of key events in the history of E.A. Diddle Arena on each game ticket, and commemorative tickets with the "50 Seasons of Diddle Arena" logo will be given to season ticket holders and available for sale.
The doors to E.A. Diddle Arena opened on December 7, 1963 with an 82-60 Vanderbilt victory over the Hilltoppers. In 49 seasons, WKU men's basketball has compiled a 524-147 record at E.A. Diddle Arena, good for an incredible .781 winning percentage, and the Hilltoppers have rolled to eight undefeated home seasons since the arena opened.
The Lady Toppers have enjoyed equal success at E.A. Diddle Arena, as the squad has won over 82 percent of its home games with a record of 426-93, and the Lady Toppers have had two undefeated home seasons and 14 years with just one home defeat.
In addition, the Hilltoppers won 43-straight games at E.A. Diddle Arena from 1968-1971, and a record 16 WKU victories came at home during a perfect home slate in 2002-03. On two occasions the Lady Toppers strung together winning streaks of 20 or more games, with the first coming in the span of a little over a year from 1983-1984 and the second from mid-December 1989 to late-February 1991.
The Hilltoppers torched rival Middle Tennessee for 134 points in a 134-84 win on January 30, 1965 to set the men's arena record for points, and Clem Haskins poured in 55 points in the game to set the benchmark for a men's individual in the friendly confines of E.A. Diddle Arena.
Crystal Kelly set a women's arena scoring record in the final home game of her career on February 23, 2008, matching her jersey number with 42 points in an 82-48 Lady Topper victory against ULM.
A record men's crowd of 14,277 packed the arena on February 27, 1971 and were treated to a 73-59 Hilltopper victory over Murray State, and a Lady Topper record crowd of 12,951 saw a 74-64 WKU win over Old Dominion on February 23, 1986.
E.A. Diddle Arena has also hosted the women's NCAA Tournament eight times, with the last coming in 2009.
"50 Seasons of Diddle Arena" Marquee Events:
November 17 -- Men vs. Western Carolina
30th Annual BB&T Classic Game
The first 1,000 fans receive a free replica model of E.A. Diddle Arena with the "50 Seasons of Diddle Arena" and BB&T logos.
December 27 -- Men vs. FIU
A special presentation for legendary Hilltopper head coach and former WKU Athletic Director John Oldham will take place, with details on the not-to-be-missed event coming at a later date.
January 16 -- Women vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
1980s Throwback Night
The Lady Toppers will be wearing uniforms modeled after the 1985 Final Four team uniforms, and ticket and concession prices will be thrown back to $1.00 for all tickets, hot dogs, small popcorn and small fountain and can drinks. In addition, the first 500 fans into E.A. Diddle Arena will receive a free throwback t-shirt in the style of the throwback jerseys the team is wearing courtesy of Russell Athletic and WKU Athletics, and in-game music will be themed after the 1980s.
January 17 -- Men vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
1970s Throwback Night
The Hilltoppers will be wearing uniforms modeled after the 1971 Final Four team uniforms, and ticket and concession prices will be thrown back to $1.00 for bleacher tickets, hot dogs, small popcorn and small fountain and can drinks. In addition, the first 1,000 fans into E.A. Diddle Arena will receive a free throwback t-shirt in the style of the throwback jerseys the team is wearing courtesy of Russell Athletic and WKU Athletics, and in-game music will be themed after the 1970s.
February 9 -- Doubleheader vs. Arkansas State
Recognition of "All-Diddle Arena Team"
Throughout the season fans will have the chance to vote for the "All-Diddle Arena Team" for Hilltopper and Lady Topper basketball, and the individuals selected during the voting process will be invited back to campus to be recognized at halftime of the two games. Details on how fans can vote for the "All-Diddle Arena Teams" will come at a later date.
Men’s and women’s basketball season at WKU tips off on Friday, October 12 with Hilltopper Hysteria, which follows a free Lady Topper volleyball match at 6:00. The first 500 fans will receive a free Hilltopper Hysteria t-shirt as they enter the volleyball match, courtesy of Coca-Cola.
Parking and admission is free to the Hilltopper Hysteria festivities.
Hilltopper Hysteria includes autograph sessions with the men's and women's basketball and volleyball teams, as well as individual player and coach introductions, a live men's and women's basketball scrimmage, three-point and dunk contests and special performances by the Topperettes and WKU cheerleaders. Big Red will also be in attendance for pictures and autographs. Fans will have the opportunity to win tickets to Dierkes Bentley's October 18 concert at E.A. Diddle Arena during Hilltopper Hysteria.
Season tickets for 2012-13 for men's and women's basketball are on sale now and can be purchased by calling the WKU Ticket Office at 1-800-5-BIG RED or 745-5222 locally. The ticket office will be open during Hilltopper Hysteria for purchases. Full payment of season ticket renewals is due this week.