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March 10, 2013

Sunday Night Showdown with Arkansas State

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - For the ninth-straight year and 22nd in 31 seasons as a member of the Sun Belt Conference WKU is playing in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, matching up with second-seeded Arkansas State Sunday night at 9:00 (CT) for a chance to play for the tournament championship on Monday.

The Hilltoppers are now 18-4 all-time in quarterfinal games, and WKU has won six-straight Sun Belt Conference Tournament games dating back to last season.

WKU is 1-2 all-time against Arkansas State in conference tournament games, winning in the quarterfinals in 2010 and losing in the 2007 semifinals and the 1999 finals. Arkansas State defeated WKU twice during the regular season, and WKU went a combined 1-5 against the three remaining teams in the tournament.

Sunday's game will be televised by the Sun Belt Network, airing nationally on CSS, CST, ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court and in the Bowling Green region on WKYU-PBS. It will also be available on the radio on the Hilltopper IMG Sports Network with Randy Lee and Hal Schmitt on the call. Live stats and live audio are available on WKUSports.com.


QUICK SHOTS

• In his two Sun Belt Conference Tournaments spanning six games, George Fant is averaging 14.8 points per game, shooting 63.2 percent from the floor (31-for-49) and averaging 5.1 rebounds per contest.
• WKU is 47-22 (.681) all-time in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, including 13-2 with two championships in four tournaments in Hot Springs, and the 47 wins are the most among current and former members of the conference.
• The Hilltoppers have advanced to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament nine-straight times and in 22 instances in 31 years as a member of the league dating to 1983.
• The last two repeat Sun Belt Conference Tournament championships both involved WKU (2001, 2002, 2003; 2008, 2009).
• A 2013 WKU title would be the sixth instance of a repeat Sun Belt Conference Tournament champion (1980, 1981 VCU; 1982, 1983, 1984 UAB; 1997, 1998 South Alabama; 2001, 2002, 2003 WKU; 2008, 2009 WKU).
• Under head coach Ray Harper, WKU is 12-2 in games played on or after February 21.
• WKU has won at least one game in each of its last three NCAA Tournament appearances (2008, 2009, 2012).
• Since 1993 WKU has seven NCAA Tournament wins to its credit, and the rest of the Sun Belt Conference is a combined 0-14.

THE LAST TIME OUT

A Jamal Crook steal and layup with 17 seconds left gave WKU a 60-59 lead over third-seeded South Alabama, and two free throws by T.J. Price after another steal iced the come-from-behind Hilltopper win and sent WKU to its 9th-straight Sun Belt Conference Tournament Semifinal on the heels of a 62-59 win over the Jaguars Saturday night in Hot Springs, Ark. The game was first tied at 45-45, and South Alabama led by two points on a couple of occasions before the final few possessions. Barrington Stevens hit a jumper for South Alabama to give the Jaguars a 59-58 lead with 54 seconds remaining, and after a missed Price three-pointer South Alabama secured the loose ball. On the next inbounds play, Crook entered the passing lane, stole the ball from Stevens and streaked to the basket for a layup to put WKU back on top at 60-59.

HILLTOPPER INDIVIDUAL TRENDS
• Jamal Crook needs one assist to tie Darrin Horn (1992-95) for sixth place on WKU's career assists list at 332.
• George Fant has started each of his last 42 games played.
• T.J. Price or George Fant has led WKU in scoring in 11-straight games.
• George Fant is averaging 7.9 rebounds per game in his last eight contests.
• T.J. Price has scored in double figures in nine-straight games and 26 of the last 32.
• George Fant has had at least 10 points in eight-straight contests and 29 of the last 38.
• Kene Anyigbo and O'Karo Akamune are a combined 13-for-19 from the floor (.684) in their last six appearances off the bench.
• Jamal Crook has had 26 double digit scoring games in 57 games since the start of his junior season after having just one in 63 games in his freshman and sophomore seasons.

HILLTOPPER TEAM TRENDS
• WKU has had at least four double-figure scorers in five of the last eight games.
• WKU has had at least one 20-point scorer in six of the last nine games.
• In the second halves of the last seven games, WKU is shooting 45.9 percent as a team, 38.0 from three-point range and 71.3 percent from the free throw line.
• WKU is shooting 70.7 percent from the free throw line in the last 13 games after shooting 64.7 percent as a team in the first 19 games of the season.
• WKU is 23-9 under head coach Ray Harper when allowing fewer than 70 points in a game.
• WKU has outrebounded 19 of its last 29 opponents and is 24-6 under head coach Ray Harper when doing so.
• Eight different Hilltoppers have had at least one double-figure scoring game in 2012-13.
• WKU has used 16 different starting lineups in 33 games in 2012-13 and 30 different lineups in the last two seasons.
• WKU has made at least eight three-pointers in five of the last seven games and at least five in 23 of the last 27 games.
• WKU has faced a double-digit deficit at one point in 41 of its last 50 losses dating back to the start of the 2010-11 season.
• WKU finished the 2012-13 regular season with five more wins than last regular season.
• The combined record of the five non-conference teams that defeated WKU in 2012-13 is 110-39 (Southern Miss, 22-8; Iowa, 19-11; Murray State, 20-9; VCU, 24-6; Louisville, 25-5).
• WKU has won 16 of its last 20 home games.
• WKU earned 10 wins before January 1 for the first time since 2006-07.
• WKU's 4-0 start to Sun Belt Conference play was its best since 2005-06.
• With a win on January 17, WKU matched last season's regular season win total 40 days earlier than earning last season's 11th victory.
• WKU was one of just 19 schools in the nation to have both its men's and women's basketball teams enter January 1 with 10 or more victories.


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