Western Carolina (1-2) at Western Kentucky (1-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 17, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: E.A. Diddle Arena (7,326) -- Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Television: None. Home Record: WCU 1-0, WKU 1-0. Away Record: WCU
0-2, WKU 0-1. Neutral Record: WCU 0-0, WKU 0-0. Conference
Record: WCU 0-0, WKU 0-0. Series Record: WKU leads 2-0.
GAME NOTES: Western Kentucky will attempt to win back-to-back games for the
first time this season when the Hilltoppers host the Western Carolina
Catamounts at E.A. Diddle Arena Saturday night as part of the Triple Crown
Through three games, Western Carolina is just 1-2 this season. The Catamounts
lone win was a 95-68 rout of NAIA foe Mars Hill in the second game of the
season. In the two losses, Western Carolina is being outscored by an average
of 13 points per game after a 79-63 defeat on the road against Wichita State
in the first matchup of the event. From here, the Catamounts travel to Cancun,
Mexico to take on Austin Peay.
Western Kentucky has split its first two contests but did earn a win in the
Cancun Challenge with a 74-54 decision over Austin Peay last Tuesday. In the
season opener the Hilltoppers narrowly missed out on earning a road victory,
falling 67-64 in overtime to Southern Mississippi. The Hilltoppers will also
travel to Cancun next to face off with Iowa.
In only two previous meetings, Western Kentucky has come out on top in both
instances. The most recent matchup was back in 1988, when the Hilltoppers
posted an 84-64 triumph at home.
Points from the free throw line had a devastating effect on Western Carolina's
matchup against Wichita State. While Wichita State earned 26 points on 27
attempts from the charity stripe, the Catamounts finished with just a single
point on four attempts. Four different players scored in double figures in the
contest led by Trey Sumler (18 points), who also handed out six assists.
Tawaski King added 11 points, seven rebounds and had the only free throw for
Just as in the loss to Wichita State, Western Carolina has a quartet of double
figure scorers on the roster this season. Sumler (16.7 ppg, 5.7 apg) has been
the go-to scoring option and a strong distributor of the ball as well. Head
coach Larry Hunter has really leaned on the redshirt junior guard, as Sumler
has averaged a team-high 35 minutes per game. No other player on the roster is
playing more than 28 minutes. King (12.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg) has been the squad's
top rebounder while also managing to score at an efficient rate (54.8 FG
percentage). At 6-foot-8, he is one of a very limited number of sizable
frontcourt options. Also in double figures on the young season are fellow
starters Tom Tankelewicz (12.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg) and Brandon Boggs (11.0 ppg, 3.3
rpg). James Sinclair (6.0 ppg) has been the top reserve, playing more than 22
minutes a game.
Although the end result was an easy victory for Western Kentucky against
Austin Peay, the Hilltoppers got all they could handle in the first half. The
score was knotted at 33-33 at the break after both teams knocked down 13
field goals, including four 3-pointers. After halftime though Western Kentucky
took over, connecting on 51.7 percent of its shots while holding the Governors
to 25.9 percent shooting. Jamal Crook (16 points, 9 assists) and George Fant
(15 points, 14 rebounds) both turned in impressive performances.
Crook and Fant have been a strong combination for Western Kentucky this
season. Crook has gotten it done across the board with his ability to score
(16.5 ppg), rebound (6.0 pg) and distribute (5.5 apg). The senior guard has
also been a menace on the defensive end, collecting three steals per contest.
Fant meanwhile is averaging a double-double (12.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg) on the season
and has been a force in protecting the rim by swatting three shots per game.
At 6-foot-6, Fant lacks the size to be able to compete against more imposing
frontcourts but thus far that has not been issue. Forward Teeng Akol (6-
foot-11) is the more traditional post player but has not been nearly as
effective a scorer (7.5 ppg) or rebounder (3.5 pg) as Fant. Sophomore guard
T.J. Price (6.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg), along with Crook and Fant, is playing more than
30 minutes a game, but needs to improve on his finishing as he has connected
on only 5-of-25 shots.
It will be no surprise if the Hilltoppers rely heavily on the efforts of Fant
and Crook going forward. While Western Carolina will be aware of that,
actually stopping the duo is another matter.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Kentucky 68, Western Carolina 59
11/17 10:36:56 ET
Powered by The Sports Network.