BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU outscored Austin Peay 41-21 in the second half, thanks in part to an 18-1 run at one point, and stormed to a 74-54 win Tuesday night at E.A. Diddle Arena in the first game of the 2012 Cancun Challenge. The game was tied at halftime, 33-all, before the Hilltoppers exploded in the second 20 minutes to pick up the season's first win.
The Hilltoppers move to 1-1 on the year, while the Governors drop to 1-1. WKU has now won eight of its last 11 games and 11 of its last 13 home openers. A crowd of 4,160 was on hand Tuesday night.
George Fant led WKU with 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Jamal Crook added 16 points and nine assists. Fant's 14 rebounds were a career high, and Crook scored his 500th career point in the first half in his 100th game in a Hilltopper uniform. Teeng Akol added 14 points and six rebounds, and T.J. Price contributed 11 points and seven rebounds. After scoring 17 points against Southern Miss in the season opener Saturday night, Crook has now scored 15 points in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.
The Hilltoppers had 17 assists on 28 baskets in the game and shot 41.8 percent from the floor overall, including 51.7 percent in the second half. Austin Peay made just seven shots in the second half and finished the game shooting 32.8 percent. A.J. Lynch led the Governors with 15 points, and Chris Horton had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
WKU led by as many as 13 points in the first half, but the Governors stormed back to tie the game at 33 heading into the halftime locker room. The Hilltoppers responded at halftime and scored the first six points after the game and had 18 out of 19 midway through the second half to bury the Governors.
The Hilltoppers turned a tight 49-43 game into a 67-44 cushion in the span of just under five minutes during that stretch, giving themselves a lead they would not relinquish. Crook and Price each had 10 points in the second half, and each made two three-pointers.
WKU outrebounded Austin Peay 22-13 in the second half and 45-36 for the game.
The Hilltoppers are back in action Saturday night at 7:30 when they face Western Carolina in the second and final mainland game in the Cancun Challenge.