BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — The 2012-13 regular season comes to a close Saturday evening at 5:30, as WKU and Middle Tennessee square off on Senior Night at E.A. Diddle Arena in the 129th all-time meeting between the two rivals.
WKU has come on strong lately, as the Hilltoppers have won three-in-a-row entering Saturday’s game, and Middle Tennessee has clinched the Sun Belt Conference regular-season crown and has won a school-record 15-straight games.
Saturday’s matchup is the final regular-season meeting between the Hilltoppers and Blue Raiders as members of the Sun Belt Conference, as Middle Tennessee will be joining Conference USA beginning next season. The Blue Raiders have won six of the last seven games against WKU, but the Hilltoppers won the most recent meeting in Bowling Green one year ago on Senior Night, 73-67.
WKU will recognize the contributions of seniors Jamal Crook and Marcus Vasquez, as well as three student-managers, in a pre-game ceremony.
Saturday's game will be televised by the Sun Belt Network, airing nationally on CSS, ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court and regionally on WKYU-PBS. It will also be broadcast on the radio on the Hilltopper IMG Sports Network with Randy Lee and Hal Schmitt on the call. Live stats and live audio are available on WKUSports.com.
Saturday is a Red Out at E.A. Diddle Arena, and fans are encouraged to wear red to support the Hilltoppers. It is also Fan Appreciation Night, where all reserved bleacher tickets cost just $7.00. The first 500 students into Saturday's game will receive a free red foam finger.
Tickets for the 2012-13 WKU men's basketball season are available online at WKUSports.com or by visiting the WKU Ticket Office in E.A. Diddle Arena. Fans can also call the ticket office at 1-800-5-BIG RED or 745-5222 locally.
WKU (16-14, 10-9 SBC) vs. Middle Tennessee (26-4, 18-1 SBC)
March 2, 2013 // 5:30 PM (CT)
Bowling Green, Ky. // E.A. Diddle Arena (7,326)
• Under head coach Ray Harper, WKU is 10-1 in games played on or after February 21.
• In the second halves of the last five games, WKU is shooting 56.4 percent as a team, 55.6 from three-point range and 77.8 from the free throw line.
• WKU has scored at least 75 points in five-straight games for the first time since February 18-March 6, 2010.
• WKU is shooting 71.3 percent from the free throw line in the last 11 games after shooting 64.7 percent as a team in the first 19 games of the season.
• WKU has won 16 of its last 19 home games.
• Through the same number of games, WKU has four more wins this season compared to last season.
• WKU’s bench is outscoring the opponent’s bench by an average of 7.3 points per game in conference contests.
• T.J. Price ranks seventh in the Sun Belt Conference in scoring average, and Jamal Crook is third in assists per game.
• Jamal Crook needs 11 assists to tie Darrin Horn (1992-95) for sixth place on WKU’s career assists list at 332.
• The combined record of the five non-conference teams that defeated WKU in 2012-13 is 104-36 (Southern Miss, 21-7; Iowa, 18-10; Murray State, 20-8; VCU, 22-6; Louisville, 23-5).
THE LAST TIME OUT
WKU picked up its third-straight win Thursday night at E.A. Diddle Arena, knocking off South Alabama, who entered the game in second place in the Sun Belt Conference East Division, 79-73 behind 22 points by T.J. Price and three other double-figure scorers. Price hit eight free throws and two three-pointers en route to his fourth 20-point game in his last six outings, and George Fant added 13 points and eight rebounds. Brandon Harris contributed 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists, and Aleksejs Rostov had 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Augustine Rubit led South Alabama with 23 points and nine rebounds, and Javier Carter had a double-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. WKU shot 57.1 percent as a team in the second half (12-for-21) and 48.2 percent for the game (27-for-56), and the Hilltoppers drained eight three-pointers for the fourth-straight game. South Alabama finished the game shooting 41.1 percent (23-for-56). WKU won the battle of the boards, 38-30.
HILLTOPPER INDIVIDUAL TRENDS
• T.J. Price has scored at least 20 points in four of the last six games.
• T.J. Price or George Fant has led WKU in scoring in eight-straight games.
• WKU has had at least one 20-point scorer in five of the last six games.
• George Fant is averaging 8.6 rebounds per game in his last five contests.
• George Fant has started each of his last 39 games played.
• T.J. Price has scored in double figures in 23 of his last 29 games.
• George Fant has had at least 10 points in 26 of his last 35 games.
• Jamal Crook has had 24 double digit scoring games in 54 games since the start of his junior season after having just one in 63 games in his freshman and sophomore seasons.
HILLTOPPER TEAM TRENDS
• WKU has had at least four double-figure scorers in five-straight games.
• WKU is 13-2 this season when leading at halftime and 15-0 when leading with 5:00 to play and 21-2 overall under head coach Ray Harper.
• WKU is 21-9 under head coach Ray Harper when allowing fewer than 70 points in a game.
• WKU has outrebounded 18 of its last 26 opponents and is 23-6 under head coach Ray Harper when doing so.
• Eight different Hilltoppers have had at least one double-figure scoring game in 2012-13.
• WKU has used 15 different starting lineups in 30 games in 2012-13 and 29 different lineups in the last two seasons.
• WKU has made at least eight three-pointers in four-straight games and at least five in 20 of the last 24 games.
• WKU has faced a double-digit deficit at one point in 41 of its last 49 losses dating back to the start of the 2010-11 season.
• WKU earned 10 wins before January 1 for the first time since 2006-07.
• WKU’s 4-0 start to Sun Belt Conference play was its best since 2005-06.
• With a win on January 17, WKU matched last season’s regular season win total 40 days earlier than earning last season’s 11th victory.
• WKU was one of just 19 schools in the nation to have both its men’s and women’s basketball teams enter January 1 with 10 or more victories.
• The Hilltoppers have advanced to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament eight-straight times and in 21 instances in 30 years as a member of the league dating to 1983.
• WKU has won at least one game in each of its last three NCAA Tournament appearances (2008, 2009, 2012).
• Since 1993 WKU has seven NCAA Tournament wins to its credit, and the rest of the Sun Belt Conference is a combined 0-14.