Hilltoppers hit the Big Apple and face Saint Joseph’s in Madison Square Garden


This three game skid has to end at some point, right? Well, let’s make it today, my favorite holiday on the American calender, as the Tops have invaded the city that never sleeps and will face off against Saint Joseph’s in a Thanksgiving Day matinee.

The Tops are no stranger to playing on the Madison Square Garden floor, however they’ll be making their first appearance since the 1986/87 season. All time, WKU is 18-21 (I know, not a stat that’s necessarily welcoming when talking about ending a losing streak) in the Garden but, the Toppers hold a 6-3 all-time lead over the Hawks so that’s always good. Right? Right? Right?

The Hawks are coming off an overtime victory over LIU, a game in which James Demery hit a three with :03 seconds to play in order to force the extra session. The Hawks were lead by DeAndre’ Bembrywho notched 17 points and a career-high 11 rebounds while Aaron Brown also had a career day, with 15 points and seven boards. The Hawks are a team that went to the Dance a year ago, losing in overtime to the eventual champion UConn Huskies.

The Tops are still trying to not only find their footing early on here this season, but simply remember how to win, since they haven’t won since the opening game. They blew an 8-1 lead against Stony Brook, were down by 10 at the half, came back to tie the game in the second half, and would wind up losing by 10, as it’s the second game in a row (with Belmont on Saturday) in which they’ve struggled to finish. George Fant and T.J. Price did what they are expected to – lead the team in scoring – except they both fouled out, leaving the finishing of the comeback off to the rest of the guys, and frankly, that’s not their job, so they were in uncharted territory. However, the Hilltoppers did show a lot of heart in how they played to come all the way back, even without the loss, and that’s momentum that they’ll look to carry into the garden with them.

Here’s how I expect Ray Harper to line up the fellas today:

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

Lawson again got the start against Stony Brook over Alex Rostov, and if neither guy is going to prove themselves over the other, Harper might just rotate the two on a two or three game basis.

Anyway, your favorite part of these previews – the Four Factors review! I still have no clue how to find season-long stats, so again, here they are based on the previous game played.

Four Factors
Western Kentucky70.6.43116.523.5.19085.9
Saint Joseph’s62.3.47711.938.5.185105.7

It’s worth noting that the Tops’ lost every category to the Seawolves on Tuesday, while SJU lost only eFG% to LIU. So, that’s something.

From everyone at Wave The Red Towel, we hope you have a happy and safe Thanksgiving, and hope you get to kickback and catch some Hilltoppers hoops with your family. What better way to end the day.