Hilltoppers open road schedule against Minnesota in Preseason NIT


The Hilltoppers have, hopefully, left the sloppy play back in Bowling Green, and are ready to play a much better basketball game as they’ll face the Minnesota Golden Gophers (I love that nickname – the Gophers) in the first game for both of these schools in the gutted Preseason NIT.

The Gophers are coming off a season opening loss to Louisville in Puerto Rico, 81-68, but saw 22 points from key contributor Andre HollinsThe first half is really what doomed Minnesota, as they played the Cardinals to a 38-38 second half, but the 43-30 halftime deficit would prove too much to overcome. The Gophers, though, didn’t get too out-hustled, as they grabbed only three less rebounds than Louisville did, and actually had a better offensive rebound percentage than did the Cards.

They did, however, go 1-4-1 among the “Four Factors,” (fancy, advanced statistic stuff), giving Louisville more of an advantage at nearly every opportunity in the game.

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The Hilltoppers, however, are coming off a win against Austin Peay, but a very sloppy one at that. They turned the ball over 13 times, combined for 23 fouls and shot 63% from the line. WKU also was in a tight rebounding battle, but was on the winning end of it, grabbing 33 against the Govs and beating APSU in all of the Four Factors.

T.J. Price

lead the offensive way for the Tops on Saturday, and was the only Hilltopper to enter 20-point range.

Trency Jackson


Chris Harrison-Docks

were the only other Hilltoppers to score double-digit points.

Making tremendous first impressions, even if they didn’t put up eyepoping numbers, were freshman Justin Johnson and Rob Marberrywho provided a strong post presence in the seemingly absence (not literally, of course. Actually…) of George FantThey’ll face a significantly tougher challenge against the Big 10 Gophers today, but it’ll be fun (I hope) to see how they step up to the challenge.

We really shouldn’t see to grand of a departure from the lineup we saw on Saturday, if in fact we see a departure at all. Here’s what I think Ray Harper will tout come tip off:

T.J. Price – G
Trency Jackson – G
Chris Harrison-Docks – G
George Fant – F
Alex Rostov – F/C

The Tops will have to combat their young depth (any depth is good depth, right?…) with a fairly experienced Gopher team, who won the NIT to close out last year.

Here’s a breakdown of the Four Factors based on each teams’ opening game. (Chart & stats thanks to SportsReference.com)

Four Factors
Western Kentucky71.9.51916.030.0.415106.9

The game will be on ESPN3 tonight, so we can watch from our warm rooms! Anyone have any predictions for tonight? Let us know on twitter or in a comment below!

Next: What Worked and What Didn't Against Austin Peay