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 back-and-forth contest featured seven ties and six lead changes in the final 7:00 of the game. 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 with 17 seconds left.
Once again the Hilltopper defense came up big with a Brandon Harris steal on the next inbounds play, and Price calmly made a pair of free throws with nine seconds left to help secure the win. Price led WKU with 22 points, and George Fant added 18 points and nine rebounds. Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Augustine Rubit paced South Alabama with 22 points
WKU opened up a 20-5 lead in the first few minutes of the game and led by as many as 17 points. WKU has now won six-straight Sun Belt Conference Tournament games and is 12-2 under head coach Ray Harper in games played on or after February 21.
WKU turns its attention to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Semifinals Sunday night at 9:00 (CT) against second-seeded Arkansas State. The game from Summit Arena will be televised by the Sun Belt Network, airing nationally on CSS, CST, ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court and regionally on WKYU-PBS