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January 6, 2013

WKU Basketball: Arkansas Road Trip Rewind







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WKU is headed back to the comfortable confines of Diddle arena where they are currently riding a 12 game home win streak after dropping two games this week in the state of Arkansas. The trip home could not come soon enough for the Tops as they battled the turnover bug on this road swing.

Thursday, your Hilltoppers took on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. A game that saw WKU dig themselves into a hole by committing nine turnovers in the early minutes of the game. The Tops trailed by as many as 14 points in the first 10 minutes of action.

WKU was able to claw their way back in it to tie the game up at the half at 36 thanks to a nifty 4-point play by new addition and former Hilltopper footballer Marcus Vasquez. The 4-point play by Vasquez was not only his first made 3-point basket and free throw of his collegiate basketball career. It was also his first attempt from the field as well as the charity stripe. That is how you make your presence known ladies and gents.

WKU was able to take a 3 point advantage with about 14:00 to go in the game following a layup by Kevin Kaspar. However, UALR answered back with a 9-0 run of their own to push their advantage to 6. The Hilltoppers were able to get the Trojan advantage down to as little as 3 points with 8:30 to go.

Again, the Trojans would make plays down the stretch that would keep them out in front to earn the 8-point victory over WKU. The loss snapped WKU's 8-game winning streak in the series against the Trojans and ended the Toppers chances of going unbeaten in Sun Belt play.

Brandon Harris led the way for WKU with 18 points on 5-18 shooting while going 4-16 from 3-point range. TJ Price was limited to just 8 points in 21 minutes of action because of foul trouble. He would eventually foul out of the game late in the 2nd half. The Tops were able to hold the Trojans top scorer Will Neighbor to just 7 points. However, a balanced scoring attack and shooting the rock above 48% helped UALR to victory.

Following the loss to UALR things couldn't possibly go as bad for WKU on Saturday night in Jonesboro could they? Think again….

WKU once again got off to slow start, allowing Arkansas State to earn a 14-2 lead heading into the first media timeout of the game. Once again, WKU was able to claw their way back into the game by going on a 7-0 run and cutting the Red Wolves lead to 14-9 heading into the next break.

A few minutes later the Tops were able to knot the game up at 20 following a sweet 3-point stroke by freshman Aleksejs Rostov. WKU was able to take their first lead of the game at 24-23 with just under 2:00 to go in the half following another basket by Rostov on the tip in. Rostov then continued the one man show by draining his 2nd 3-pointer of the game with 7 seconds remaining in the half to give WKU the 27-23 advantage over Arkansas St heading into the break.

The Red Wolves came out of the locker room on a mission. Going on a 18-6 run to regain the lead and push their advantage to eight points. Arkansas State led by as many 15 points in the half while compiling a 52 point scoring output in the 2nd stanza on 58% shooting from the field.

This was the first time the Hilltoppers had lost all season when leading the game at halftime.

Ed Townsel led the Red Wolves in scoring with 18 points. Arkansas St was also able to win the battle of the boards against WKU 35-30. The Toppers committed 17 turnovers and shot 43% from the field. WKU was led in scoring by freshman Alaksejs Rostov who finished with 17 points and shot 5-6 from 3-point range. TJ Price chipped in 11, but was just 1-8 from deep and 4-13 overall from the field.

The Toppers return home with a record of 10-7 (4-2 in conference play). WKU does not have a midweek game this week. Should be a good time to get some rest, work on some areas, and try to get healthy with some of the lingering injuries.

WKU will face Florida Atlantic next Saturday night in Diddle Arena at 7:00. I urge everyone to show up and help the Hilltoppers extend their home winning streak to lucky number 13.



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