It wouldn't be a postseason without the WKU Hilltoppers winning four games in four days.
WKU pulled off the feat for the second straight season, beating Florida International Monday night 65-63 for the Sun Belt Conference Championship.
With the win, the Hilltoppers will make their second straight appearance in the NCAA tournament.
Sophomore forward and Bowling Green native George Fant led the Toppers with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Senior guard Jamal Crook also scored 17, including some clutch late-game free throws that helped seal the deal for WKU.
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.
WKU sophomore T.J. Price’s steal and layup with 19 seconds remaining erased a one-point deficit Sunday night 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.
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.
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.
WKU shot nearly 70 percent from the floor in the first half to help open a 46-24 halftime lead and roll to a 74-60 win over 11th-seeded ULM in the first round of the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Tournament Friday night in Hot Springs, Ark. The win is WKU's fourth in the last five games and moves its overall record to 17-15 on the season.
WKU also advanced to its 22nd-straight Sun Belt Conference Tournament quarterfinal with the victory and will face third-seeded South Alabama at 8:30 PM (CT) Saturday.
WKU went 18-for-26 from the floor in the first half (.692) and finished at 58.3 percent from the game (28-for-48), and the Hilltoppers tied a season high with 11 three-pointers. WKU was led by T.J. Price's 18 points, and George Fant went 6-for-6 from the floor en route to 12 points and five rebounds. Caden Dickerson sank three three-pointers in the game, as did Kevin Kaspar, and 10 Hilltoppers scored in the game.
With the win, WKU advances to the quarterfinals of the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Tournament to face third-seeded South Alabama Saturday night at 8:30 (CT) on the Convention Center Court.
WKU picked up its third-straight win Thursday night at E.A. Diddle Arena, knocking off South Alabama 79-73, behind 22 points by T.J. Price and three other double-figure scorers. The win improves WKU to 16-14 overall and 10-9 in Sun Belt Conference play entering the final regular-season game on Saturday.
WKU is now 10-1 over the last two seasons in games played on or after February 21, and the Hilltoppers have won 16 of their last 19 home games. With the win, WKU equaled last season's win total five games sooner.
Price hit eight free throws and two three-pointers en route to his fourth 20-point game in his last six outings, and George Fant added 13 points and eight rebounds. Brandon Harris contributed 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists, and Aleksejs Rostov had 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Augustine Rubit led South Alabama with 23 points and nine rebounds, and Javier Carter had a double-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks.
A hot-shooting second half and four players in double figures Thursday night helped WKU end a three-game losing streak with a 75-57 win over ULM at E.A. Diddle Arena. The win improves WKU's record to 14-14 overall and 8-9 in Sun Belt Conference play with three games remaining in the regular season.
WKU shot 60.9 percent as a team in the second half and made six second-half three-pointers to help secure the victory, and four Hilltoppers had at least 12 points in the game led by George Fant and T.J. Price with 15 apiece. Jamal Crook added 13 points and seven assists, and Brandon Harris buried four three-pointers to finish with 12 points, and he also added six rebounds.
For the second-straight game WKU had at least 18 assists as a team, with 18 Thursday night on 27 made baskets. WKU scored 32 points in the paint, and the Hilltopper reserves contributed 24 points. ULM never led in the game.
WKU has received word from the NCAA that an assistant men’s basketball coach could be sanctioned for alleged violations at his former employer. WKU's Jake Morton was previously an assistant basketball coach at the University of Miami.
None of the allegations against Morton relate to his time at WKU, but the NCAA letter says any subsequent actions taken against Morton could impact his “athletically related duties” at WKU.
Morton came to Bowling Green in 2011 as an assistant coach and was later named director of basketball operations. The NCAA investigation of the Miami Hurricanes' athletic department from 2007 to 2009 involves a former booster who was later convicted of running a Ponzi scheme. The NCAA has accused Morton of accepting $6,000 from the booster, and providing transportation for the AAU coach of a top high school prospect Miami was recruiting at the time.
WKU dropped a 67-49 decision to Arkansas State Saturday night at E.A. Diddle Arena, ending a bid for three-straight Sun Belt Conference victories. The loss drops WKU to 13-12 overall and 7-7 in the Sun Belt Conference.
A season high 5,862 fans were on hand on a night in which WKU honored the All-Diddle Arena Team and welcomed back the 2002-03 NCAA Tournament team celebrating its 10th anniversary.
The win was Arkansas State's first in Bowling Green in the last 11 tries dating back to the 1997-98 season.
T.J. Price led WKU with 21 points on 7-of-16 shooting, and he also led WKU in rebounding with seven and in assists with four. It was Price's fifth 20-point game of the season and sixth of his career, and he has now led WKU in scoring a team high nine times this season. Arkansas State was led by Trey Finn's 23 points and six three-pointers, and Brandon Peterson had nine points and 10 rebounds.
WKU ended a six-game road losing streak and made it back-to-back conference wins with a 70-59 victory Thursday night at Sun Belt Conference West Division preseason favorite North Texas. WKU is now 13-11 overall and 7-6 in conference play.
Nine Hilltoppers played at least 10 minutes in the game, and all nine scored. Jamal Crook and George Fant led WKU with 14 points apiece, with Fant adding eight rebounds and Crook contributing six boards and three assists. Brandon Harris scored 10 points in 22 minutes, and O'Karo Akamune tied a career high with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting in 13 minutes off the bench.
North Texas jumped on WKU from the start and led 8-0 after 3:44 gone by on the strength of six early points by Mitchell. The Mean Green led 21-13 after a Jordan Williams slam dunk, but WKU closed the half on a 14-3 run to lead 27-24 at the intermission.
WKU head men's basketball coach Ray Harper announced Tuesday the addition of Chris Harrison-Docks to the program after the guard elected to transfer from Butler University before the start of the 2012-13 regular season.
Harrison-Docks is enrolled in school and practicing with the Hilltoppers, and he will have three-and-a-half years of eligibility at WKU beginning after the conclusion of the first semester of the 2013-14 season.
"Chris is a great addition to our basketball program," Harper said. "He has a very high basketball IQ, and he is as competitive of a player as you could find. He can shoot with range, and his dedication to improving his skills is evident in how he enrolled in school early so he could begin practicing with our current team right away. We could not be more pleased to be able to bring a player of Chris' caliber to WKU."