One of college basketball’s longest-running rivalries is renewed Sunday afternoon at 2:00, as WKU and Murray State meet for the 150th time.
The two former Ohio Valley Conference foes separated by less than 135 miles first squared off on January 25, 1932, and WKU holds a 97-52 advantage in the series but trails 31-30 in games contested in Murray. Murray State has won three of the last four games in the series, and over 60 percent of the games in the series have been decided by single digits.
Both teams are off to solid starts in 2012-13, as the 15 combined wins entering Sunday’s game are the most heading into a WKU-Murray State matchup since the January 12, 1988 contest, when the Hilltoppers were 9-3 and the Racers were 6-6.
Beginning Sunday, WKU plays five of its next seven games away from home.
The game will be televised by the Hilltopper Sports Satellite Network, airing nationally on ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court, locally on WKYU-PBS and in Louisville on WBNA. It will also be broadcast 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.
WKU (8-2, 2-0 SBC) at Murray State (7-1, 0-0 Ohio Valley)
December 16, 2012 // 2:00 PM (CT)
Murray, Ky. // CFSB Center (8,600)
• WKU has won 15 of its last 18 games.
• WKU has not trailed for the last 82:02 of game action, spanning the entire Southern Illinois and IUPUI games and the final 2:02 of the win at Troy on December 1.
• WKU’s next three games are against teams that went a combined 90-19 in 2011-12 and had at least one victory in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
• WKU is off to its best start to a season since beginning the 2006-07 campaign with an identical 8-2 record.
• WKU earned its eighth win of the season on December 8, and last season’s eighth win did not come until February 4.
• WKU ranks 30th in the nation in three-point field goal defense in 2012-13 and 32nd in rebound margin.
• Teeng Akol is one blocked shot away from tying Lee Lampley (1997-2000) for 10th place on WKU’s career blocked shots list with 74.
• Jamal Crook needs two assists to tie Michael Fraliex (1993-96) for 10th place on WKU’s career assists list at 305.
THE LAST TIME OUT
A solid all-around team effort and 25 points and nine assists from Jamal Crook helped the Hilltoppers to their 10th-straight home win and sixth-straight overall last Saturday against IUPUI, 77-57. In earning the 20-point win, WKU did not trail in the game. The Hilltoppers have now been ahead on the scoreboard for the last 82:02 of game action, spanning the final 2:02 of the game at Troy on December 1 and the entire Southern Illinois game on December 5. Crook’s 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting and nine assists were one shy of career highs in each category. George Fant contributed 13 points and six rebounds, and Kevin Kaspar drained three three-pointers and set career highs with six rebounds and five assists. Brandon Harris also added nine points and eight rebounds, and Percy Blade scored eight points in 13 minutes off the bench. IUPUI was paced by 13 points from both Ian Chiles and Jordan Shanklin.
HILLTOPPER INDIVIDUAL TRENDS
• T.J. Price has scored in double figures in eight-straight games and 10 of his last 11 played.
• George Fant has had at least 10 points in 11 of his last 15 games.
• T.J. Price has hit multiple three-pointers in 18 of his last 24 games.
• Jamal Crook has had 20 double digit scoring games in 45 games since the start of his junior season after having just one in 63 games in his freshman and sophomore seasons.
• Five of the eight highest-scoring games of Jamal Crook’s WKU career came in the first eight games of the 2012-13 season.
• Caden Dickerson has made 56 of his last 68 free throw attempts (.824).
HILLTOPPER TEAM TRENDS
• WKU leads the Sun Belt Conference in rebounding, field goal defense and scoring defense and is second scoring margin in 2012-13.
• WKU is 13-2 under head coach Ray Harper when leading a game with 5:00 remaining.
• The Hilltoppers are 16-1 under head coach Ray Harper when outrebounding their opponent and 15-3 when attempting more free throws than their opponent.
• WKU is 15-5 under head coach Ray Harper when allowing fewer than 70 points in a game.
• WKU is 2-0 in Sun Belt Conference play for the first time since 2009-10.
• WKU has won 10-straight home games after losing four-in-a-row before that.
• WKU’s current 10-game home winning streak is its longest since winning 15-in-a-row at E.A. Diddle Arena spanning the end of the 2007-08 season (1), the entire 2008-09 season (13) and the start of the 2009-10 campaign (1).
• WKU has used five different starting lineups in 10 games in 2012-13.
• In the last 26 games, WKU is holding opponents to 64.1 points per game and is 19-7 in that stretch.
• WKU has come back to win eight of the last 12 times it has trailed at halftime, compared to losing 12-straight in that situation before that.
• WKU has faced a double-digit deficit at one point in 30 of its last 37 losses dating back to the start of the 2010-11 season.
• The Hilltoppers have advanced to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament eight-straight times and in 21 instances in 30 years as a member of the league dating to 1983.
• 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.