MONROE, La. - Sophomore T.J. Price scored a career high 30 points as WKU opened Sun Belt Conference play with a 65-54 win over ULM at the Fant-Ewing Coliseum Thursday night.
WKU has now won five of its last six conference openers as the Hilltoppers expanded a two-point lead at the half into a double-digit victory.
The Slidell, La., native hit 10-of-19 shots from the field, including a career best five three-point field goals. Price added six rebounds, three assists and three blocks in 39 minutes. He became the first Hilltopper to score 30 points in a game since Steffphon Pettigrew had 31 points against Florida Atlantic on January 15, 2011.
Price was the only Hilltopper in double figures. Jamal Crook and George Fant each added eight for the Hilltoppers.
The Hilltoppers shot 46.0 percent and outrebounded the Warhawks 36-28. WKU had a 19-9 advantage in bench points as Caden Dickerson and O'Karo Akamune each scored six for the Hilltoppers.
Price set the tone offensively for the Hilltoppers in the opening 20 minutes, finishing the first half with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting and hitting four three-pointers in the first eight minutes of the game, which tied a career high. WKU converted nine of its first 14 shots of the game.
WKU went on an 8-0 run over first minutes late in the first half and held ULM without a field goal for 5:14, helping extend the lead to as many as eight points with 4:28 remaining in the half.
The Warhawks clawed back near the end of the opening frame with a couple of late field goals to make the halftime score 32-30. WKU did not make a field goal for the final 4:28 of the first half. The Hilltopper defense forced nine Warhawk turnovers in the half.
WKU wraps up its road swing on Saturday night at 7:30 at Troy. The game will be televised by the Hilltopper Sports Satellite Network, airing regionally on WKYU-PBS and nationally on ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court.
The games will also be broadcast on the radio on the Hilltopper IMG Sports Network with Randy Lee and Hal Schmitt on the call.
WKU returns home on Wednesday at 7:00 PM against Southern Illinois. The first 500 fans into the game against the Salukis will receive a free WKU basketball sticker decal. Tickets for the 2012-13 WKU basketball season are on sale now and can be purchased online at WKUSports.com or by calling the WKU Ticket Office at 1-800-5-BIG RED or 745-5222 locally.