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WKU Basketball: One Big Thing Before the Hilltoppers Tip-Off Against Kentucky State
The Hilltoppers return to Diddle Arena Saturday afternoon to take on a Division II in-state rival. Here’s what we’re looking for.
After winning in their return to the Bluegrass State on Tuesday, Western Kentucky returns to E.A. Diddle Arena for another matchup against a Division II opponent - something that I hope to see go the way of the Dodo as Steve Lutz gets his fingerprints more on the program - when they welcome Kentucky State in.
There was a lot to like from what we saw out of the Hilltoppers against Murray State and they’ll look to build upon that in their final tune up before heading north of the border into the Canadian MTE over Thanksgiving weekend.
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Without further adieu, here is our One Big Thing as the Hilltoppers welcome in the Thoroughbreds for a Saturday night showdown.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. CT.
Fletcher Keel - Dominate From Start To Finish
Through three games this year, the Hilltoppers have held a halftime lead. In the opener, the cruised in the back 20 minutes, outscoring Kentucky Wesleyan by 20.
Against Wichita St. and Murray St., however, the Tops were outscored in the second half, but were still able to split the pair, with the Tops failing to truly mount a comeback effort against the Shockers while they were able to much more adept to weathering the storm and finishing off the Racers.
On Saturday, I don’t want to see the Tops even be in a position to have to outlast the Thoroughbreds and close out a win. The game should be over by halftime, with the second half more of a formality.
While D2 programs can have some talent, Kentucky State is not a program the Hilltoppers should have trouble dispatching.
Matt McCay - Fix What Murray Exposed
WKU was exposed in a different way against Murray State. Murray is the most capable offensive team that WKU has faced so far in a very young season, and they did expose WKU’s over extension on screens.
The Tops have been coached by Lutz and staff to aggressively stick to screens. You will see big guys aggressively stopping the ball and abandoning their man, with a weak side defender dropping down to protect the abandoned player. All players rotate to the next closest defender if it creates an imbalance, and then they switch back if at all possible.
Well, Murray exposed that with some extra and often interior post passing. Western needs to work on either compromising between the hedge and getting back, or the Tops need to fully understand their responsibilities until the defense is rebalanced. WKU also just allowed too many easy buckets against such a small lineup, and that also was not something we saw much in either of the first two games.
Again, Murray was a very capable offensive team. But WKU’s defense has looked much better than it did Tuesday night. If it wasn’t for Khristian Lander, Dontaie Allen and Don McHenry going off for big games offensively, WKU would have definitely lost because of defensive issues.
Let’s see the Tops make another step forward, fixing the issues exposed by the Racers. If they do that, I’ll be thrilled, regardless of the scoreboard.
Alex Sherfield - Let The Bench Do Their Thing
Tuesday night’s win in Murray was living proof that having a deep bench can make all the differences in the world.
Khristian Lander played an impressive role in a complete game, headlined by finishing with 12 points. Dontaie Allen was a huge factor coming in second behind Don McHenry in scoring points.
I’d keep both guys in rotation for the next few weeks, especially in the thick of the tougher slate of games. I’m also expecting a bounce back for Babcar Faye, Jack Edelen, & Teagan Moore.