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March 11, 2013

WKU to the Championship for Second Straight Year


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - For the second-straight year WKU has willed itself to a Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship appearance, and a win on Monday night at 6:00 (CT) against fourth-seeded FIU would send WKU to its 23rd NCAA Tournament and fourth in the last six seasons.

Monday's game will be televised nationally on ESPN.

The Hilltoppers have stormed through the bracket this season, winning three games in three days thus far to advance to its 13th Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship game, where WKU is 8-4 all-time.

T.J. Price is leading WKU's offense so far in the tournament, as the sophomore is averaging 21.3 points per game in 33.7 minutes per outing.

A win against FIU would give the Hilltoppers 20 victories on the season, earning WKU its 41st 20-win season in program history, which is the sixth-most in NCAA history.

WKU is 5-0 against FIU in Sun Belt Conference Tournament play but has never faced the Panthers in a round later than the quarterfinals.

Monday's game will be televised nationally on ESPN. 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.

To download the full version of game notes for this game, CLICK HERE.

GAME 35
#6 WKU (19-15, 10-10 SBC) vs. #4 FIU (18-13, 11-9 SBC)
2013 Sun Belt Conference Tournament -- Championship
March 11, 2013 // 6:00 PM (CT)
Hot Springs, Ark. // Summit Arena (6,000)

QUICK SHOTS
• WKU has won six of its last seven appearances in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship game.
• 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).
• A 2013 WKU title would mark the third-straight year a team has won four games in four days to win the Sun Belt Conference Tournament title, after WKU achieved the feat last year while UALR did it in 2011.
• In the seven Sun Belt Conference Tournament wins under Ray Harper, WKU has had to overcome a deficit in six of the seven, erasing deficits of five, 13, five and 13 a year ago and deficits of two points against South Alabama and seven against Arkansas State this year.
• WKU is 48-22 (.686) all-time in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, including 14-2 with two championships in four tournaments in Hot Springs, and the 48 wins are the most among current and former members of the conference.
• Under head coach Ray Harper, WKU is 13-2 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
WKU sophomore T.J. Price's steal and layup with 19 seconds remaining erased a one-point deficit as the Hilltoppers advanced to the championship game of the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Tournament with a 58-56 win over second-seeded Arkansas State. Price led the Hilltoppers with a game high 24 points, including a 7-of-7 performance from the free throw line, as the rest of the WKU starting lineup struggled to find an offensive flow, combining to shoot just 3-of-14 from the field and fighting through foul trouble for much of the game. The Hilltoppers were able to overcome the offensive struggles by limiting the Red Wolves to just 36.7 percent shooting from the field in the game. The Hilltoppers forced 18 turnovers in the game, including the late steal that led to the go-ahead basket.

HILLTOPPER INDIVIDUAL TRENDS
• Jamal Crook needs two assists to tie Brett McNeal (1986-89) for fifth place on WKU's career assists list at 354, as he is currently tied for sixth with Darrin Horn (1992-95) at 352.
• George Fant has started each of his last 43 games played.
• T.J. Price or George Fant has led WKU in scoring in 12-straight games.
• T.J. Price is averaging 20.0 points per game in his last five games.
• T.J. Price has scored in double figures in 10 straight games and 27 of the last 33.
• George Fant has had 10-plus points in eight of his last nine games and 30 of the last 39.
• Kene Anyigbo and O'Karo Akamune are a combined 15-for-23 from the floor (.652) in their last seven appearances off the bench.
• Jamal Crook has had 26 double digit scoring games in 58 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 one 20-point scorer in seven of the last 10 games.
• In the second halves of the last seven games, WKU is shooting 47.9 percent as a team, 45.7 from three-point range and 74.2 percent from the free throw line.
• WKU is shooting 71.2 percent from the free throw line in the last 10 games after shooting 64.7 percent as a team in the first 19 games of the season.
• WKU is 24-9 under head coach Ray Harper when allowing fewer than 70 points in a game.
• WKU has outrebounded 19 of its last 30 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 34 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 eight games and at least five in 23 of the last 28 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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