Hilltoppers consider loss at No. 25 Washington a learning experience; welcomes UT Martin Saturday

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Western Kentucky opened the season with a 73-55 road loss at No. 25 Washington, but that wasn't the whole story.

The Hilltoppers took a nine-point lead into the locker room after closing out the first half on a 20-2 scoring run before being outscored 46-19 in the second half.

"We got better from (Tuesday's game)," WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said. "I can tell you that. Just mentally understanding. There's no substitution for experience you gain going on the road against a really good team. "

WKU plays it home opener against UT Martin 6 p.m. Saturday at E.A. Diddle Arena and will have a full roster for the game.

Stansbury confirmed Friday that graduate transfer Desean Murray has been reinstated and will play Saturday after serving an indefinite suspension and missed the Kentucky Wesleyan exhibition and didn’t travel to Washington.

Josh Anderson and Taveion Hollingsworth also served one-game suspensions during the exhibition games.

"This will be the first game that we've had everybody able to go," Stansbury said while knocking on the table. "We have to get some rhythm and some chemistry playing together."

UT Martin began its season Tuesday with a 91-58 victory over Cumberland (Tenn.). This will be the first meeting between WKU and UT Martin since 1998.

"Going into Washington with that crowd, playing in front of all those people was a shock for everybody," Redshirt junior Jared Savage said. "(Underclassmen) got that out of the way and now they're ready."