Hilltoppers open four year series with Belmont in Diddle Arena


A potential budding rivalry in the making begins a four-year annual meeting tonight, as the Hilltoppers will welcome in the Belmont Bruins, who are coming off a season in which they made the NCAA tournament and were the Ohio Valley Conference regular season champions in just their second season as a member.

The Tops, of course, are coming off a plain ugly win to Minnesota, a game in which saw the Gophers start on a 22-6 run, the Hilltoppers shoot 31% from the floor and have none of the starting five score in double figures. The one silver lining is Nigel Snipes and Justin Johnson both stole the WKU show from the bench, with both finishing with 15 points. Obviously, the key tonight is either a) get more contributions from your starting five or b) shake things up early in the season here and put Snipes or Johnson in the starting five, so Ray Harper lets the guys know that he means business.

The Bruins come into Diddle Arena on a two game winning streak – an 87-62 win over Lipscomb and a 96-76 win over Trevecca Nazarene, which has a former Hilltopper on their squad in Percy Blade. (Remember that name? I nearly forgot about it.) Through three games this year, the Bruins are shooting 52.7% from the floor, which is good enough for the 26th best field goal percentage in the nation. Also, the Bruins are 32nd in the country in points per game (84.3), meaning – if the Tops’ can score of course – we’re in for a high scoring evening.

Four of the starting five for Belmont are averaging in double figures and are lead by Taylor Barnettewho’s averaging just shy of 20 points per game. Reece Chamberlain and Evan Bradds are also averaging over 12 points a game, and are getting it done on the glass as well, with Chamberlain leading the team in rebounds with 7.3 per game, and Bradds not far behind with 6.7. It’ll be a key battle on the floor tonight, and if the Tops’ don’t win it…no, I’m not going to think of that.

Here’s how I think the Hilltoppers will start the evening, and if things don’t go well, I’d expect to see some changes come next week.

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

Here are the Four Factors’ numbers from each of the teams’ last time on the court. And, if you don’t fully understand them, don’t worry. We’ll have a “how to” post on our site soon.

Four Factors
Western Kentucky80.9.38628.616.7.17566.7

Yes, there’s a huge disparity between the two teams, but don’t forget the competition each faced last time out. However, the Bruins are formidable and can score, so the either the Tops’ offense keeps the pace and plays clean (yeah right) or the defense steps it up and plays out of their minds (again, yeah right. I’m scared).

Tip-off is at seven o’clock! Let us know on twitter @WaveTheRedTowel if you have any predictions!