The WKU men's basketball team opened exhibition play Monday evening at E.A. Diddle Arena by beating Campbellsville 84-46. Four Hilltoppers scored in double figures, led by George Fant's 20 and Jamal Crook's 16. Fant added eight rebounds and five steals, and T.J. Price had 14 points and seven rebounds.
As the 2012-13 season gets underway, the Hilltoppers hope the good feelings that came from last season's dramatic postseason run continue into this season.The Toppers won the Sun Belt Conference tournament, something few thought they would do, to earn a bid in the NCAA tournament. Down big late in their opening round game, WKU game back to win in dramatic style. They lost their second round game to eventual national champion Kentucky.
If WKU hopes to have another big season, they'll need big contributions from sophomore forward and Bowling Green native George Fant, who says he has tuned out a lot of what people tried to tell him in the off-season.
"I don't listen to too many people," says Fant. "Some people are just going to say whatever they want to say, and you have to take the good and run with it, and let the bad stuff roll off of you."
Hilltopper fans will be looking for big things from the team's backcourt, which features senior guard Jamal Crook, sophomore T.J. Price--who had a breakout game against Kentucky last season--and Caden Dickerson, who's finally healthy after injuries last year.
You can see the entire Hilltoppers 2012-13 roster here.
Sun Belt coaches picked WKU to finish in the middle of the pack this season in a recent preseason poll. WKU head coach Ray Harper says he doesn't care about preseason polls, only where his team stands at the end of the season.
Monday's opening exhibition against Campbellsville starts at 7 pm.
WKU's first official game is Saturday, Nov. 10, at Southern Mississippi.
The Hilltoppers face an especially tough three-game stretch early in the season when they take on Murray State, Virginia Commonwealth, and Louisville in December.
Here's a look at the 2012-13 season schedule, courtesy of WKU Sports.
And here's some "quick shots" from the kind gents over at WKU Athletics Media:
• WKU is 47-4 all-time in preseason exhibition games, and the Hilltoppers have won 16-straight preseason tune-ups dating back to a 2002-03 loss to the Harlem Globetrotters.
• WKU returns 63.3 percent of its scoring and 59.4 percent of its rebounding in 2012-13, one season after replacing 66.0 percent of its scoring and 64.8 percent of its rebounding from the year before.
• The 15 players on WKU’s 2012-13 roster have combined for 16 letters, one season after the 2011-12 roster combined for eight letters entering the season.
• WKU returns five players who appeared in at least 30 games in 2011-12.
• Excluding graduated senior Kahlil McDonald, WKU returns six of its top seven scorers from 2011-12.
• Returning in 2012-13 from season-ending injuries are Caden Dickerson and Kevin Kaspar, which will strengthen the guard position and give the Hilltoppers multiple three-point threats.
• T.J. Price and Kevin Kaspar combined to hit 73 three-pointers in 2011-12, converting at a 35.8 percent clip from distance.
• In 19 games after Ray Harper took over as head coach in 2011-12, six players averaged at least 7.0 points per game, including four returners (Fant, 11.5; Price, 9.4; Crook, 8.7; Akol, 7.0).
• WKU has advanced to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in eight-straight seasons.
• 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.