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March 2, 2013

Tops Fall To MTSU in Gritty Battle, 70-62





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The Ides of March proved to be unkind to the Hilltoppers, at least on March 2nd anyway. Diddle Arena was the scene of another chapter in "100 Miles of Hate" on Saturday night that saw fellow Sun Belt (soon to be Conference USA) brethren Middle Tennessee escape with a 70-62 victory in a gritty WWE-style cage match.

The game was knotted up at 62 with 1:27 left to play after a Brandon Harris 3-point bomb from the corner pocket. However, the Blue Raiders went on a 8-0 run in the final seconds to secure a win and flex their muscles at midcourt. Middle Tennessee was led by JT Sulton, who dropped in 17 points and grabbed seven boards.

Despite the loss, the Hilltoppers gave the Sun Belt's top team a Balboa-esque fight, rallying from a 42-33 deficit with a shade over 16 minutes remaining in the game. The next scene in this 2012-13 script will take place in the beautiful, historic armpit of Hot Springs, Arkansas where the Tops will enter the Sun Belt Conference Tournament as the sixth seed.

The Blue Raiders end the regular season with a bright, shiny record of 27-4, 19-1 in conference play. A stellar season indeed by the fightin' Kermits.

Western Kentucky finishes the regular season with a 16-15 record, 10-10 in conference play. Not too shabby for a season riddled with injuries to key players and a certain tall fella unwilling to attend study hall sessions.

Player of the Game: George Fant put in another solid effort scoring 18 points and gathering six rebounds. He also went 4-5 from the charity stripe.

Thanks, Jamal: On senior night we said "goodbye" to one of the best in point guard Jamal Crook. He finished with 10 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals in his Diddle Arena finale.

Next Up: The Tops will kick off conference tournament play against lowly Louisiana-Monroe on Friday, the Warhawks finished out their regular season with a workmanlike 4-22 record, 3-17 in the SBC.

The sixth seed is looking mighty fine for Western Kentucky in their quest to defend their postseason Sun Belt crown.

Postgame Press Conference

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