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November 22, 2012
After beating Austin Peay and Western Carolina in Diddle Arena, the Hilltoppers spent their Thanksgiving playing Iowa and DePaul in the Cancun Challenge.
The Hawkeyes led WKU 30-22 at halftime, a deficit the Hilltoppers could never fully overcome in an eventual 63-55 loss to Iowa.
WKU had the ball down 49-42 with 7:00 to play, but a missed layup by guard Kevin Kaspar followed by a jump shot by Iowa's Melsahn Basabe put the Hawkeyes ahead 51-42.
With 4:51 to play, WKU would trim the lead to 7 again on two free throws from guard T.J Price.
An Iowa missed layup gave the Toppers a chance to cut into the lead again, but a Jamal Crook charge gave the Hawkeyes the ball back, eventually draining two free throws of their own to go-ahead again 55-46.
WKU would have one last chance to make a run, when a Price 3-point basket cut the lead to 7 again, at 58-51 with 1:39 to play.
But an Iowa jumper on the next possession put the Hawkeyes ahead 60-51 with 1:09 to play, a deficit that proved too big for the Toppers to close.
Price led the Toppers with 16 points, but managed his points on only 5-for-14 shooting from the field.
Crook also finished in double figures with 14 points, adding 6 assists.
Less than 24 hours after the loss to Iowa, the Hilltoppers had to try to turn things around against Big East opponent DePaul in the tournament's consolation game.
The Toppers would fare much better against the Blue Demons, utilizing a 41-27 halftime lead in a 70-61 victory, taking 3rd place in the tournament.
Western Kentucky's 14 point lead at the break was spurred by 13 first-half points from Price, including three 3-point baskets, with Kaspar adding 9 points of his own.
Price cooled off in the 2nd half, but Crook managed to pick up the scoring for the Hilltoppers, scoring 8 points on several layups with under 10:00 to play.
Crook finished 8-for-13 from the field to lead WKU with 16 points for the game, adding 3 assists and 2 steals.
As a team, the Hilltoppers held DePaul to 25-for-66 shooting overall (38 percent), including holding the Blue Demons to only 1-for-14 (7 percent) from 3-point range.
Five games into the season, WKU is holding its opponents to 21.5% shooting from 3-point land, ranking their 3-point defense at No. 13 currently in the country in 2012.
The Hilltoppers have a few days to relax back in the States before taking on Brescia in Diddle Arena on Saturday, Nov. 24.
Western Kentucky NEWS