MBB Exhibition: Hilltoppers put on offensive show in rout of Pikeville


If tonight was just a preview of whats to come for WKU basketball this year, it’s going to be a fun season, as the Hilltoppers scored 53 points in the first half and 52 in the second to complete a 105-84 route over the Pikeville Bears.

It was a slow start for the Tops, as the Bears got out to an early 11-10 lead, but after the first media timeout, the Tops turned it on, took a lead, and would never look back – although there were times when the Bears would make it close.

At times tonight, the Hilltoppers looked like they could be the class of the conference – they would make bounce passes through the lane, no look passes, have multiple fast breaks, play physical down low…it was simply just tremendous basketball.

The other times tonight, the Tops didn’t play bad – they just didn’t play as well as they did in those stretch runs of great ball. It’s nit-picking, which is a good sign after the first exhibition.

T.J. Price would lead all Hilltoppers in points with 23, along with eight assists and four rebounds, as he was really the first Topper to get hot from jump shots and never cooled off. Trency Jackson was hot from beyond the arc, hitting all three of his attempted triples, and finished just behind T.J. with 22 points. He also contributed six assists and five boards.

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The pleasant surprise of the evening was Justin Johnson, who – along with Avery Patterson – became the first two freshman to see the floor, and made the most of his time, recording a double double of 18 points and 10 boards, and left the game to a standing ovation from the Diddle Arena crowd. Remember that

Derrick Gordon

fellow that played his freshman year on the Hill? Johnson reminds me a lot of him, except  bigger and more athletic. He jumped onto the press-table to save a steal, he went toe-to-toe against anyone who came in his paint, and he refused to be denied on close-range layups, getting second…third…even fourth opportunity boards to get points. The man is a beast.

The Tops shot 58.2% from the floor and 65.4% at the line (which, all things considered, is good based on WKU standards), to go along with 47.6% from the three-point line.

The one area of concern is the struggles Alex Rostov and Ben Lawson had when going up against the “big men” of UPike (I put that in quotes because they weren’t, uhm, big). Rostov had four fouls and Big Ben finished with three. Even coach Harper said in his postgame comments that they’ll, especially Lawson, have to get more aggressive if they want to hold their own.

While Johnson and Patterson were rotated in like I expected them to, Ayidine Sprewell and DJ Clayton didn’t see floor time (along with sophomore Brandon Price). While the Tops were rolling tonight, the one downside to them not seeing the floor tonight is their first action will come in a game that matters. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.

Well, that’s all we get, folks. The last time the Hilltoppers take the floor, it’ll matter, and this magical season will be underway.