WKU combats slow start and 29 points from T.J. Price helps pace the Tops over Chicago State


Well, it wasn’t as easy as I envisioned it going for the Hilltoppers, but when it was all said and done, they got the job done, as a near-career day from T.J. Price helped lead WKU over Chicago State 75-60, and now the full WKU attention can be placed on Louisville.

Things started pretty rocky for the Tops, as the Cougars jumped out to a 10-3 lead, and Ray Harper pulled all of the starters off the floor in search for some sort of energy, as Chris Harrison-Docks would say during post game quotes. Once the Tops got their game-legs under them, it was mostly a game of catch-up in the home stretch of the first half until a 6-0 run to end the first 20 minutes gave the Tops a 37-33 halftime lead that they’d never relinquish.

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I tweeted during the second half that, even though the worst it ever during “actual,” play was 12 points (outside of the final score of 15 points), it never really felt that close – it seemed like the Tops were all over Chicago St. in the second half and you’d be hard pressed to believe the score if I told it to you simply by what you saw on the court.

Finishing just one point shy of his career mark, T.J. Price was again the pace-setter for the WKU offense, scoring 29 points and going 6-of-9 from beyond the arc – it was just complete and total madness. Three of the other four starters also all scored in double figures, except for Alex Rostov, who didn’t score at all.

Justin Johnson, while only scoring four points, continued to develop as the big-man the Tops will need once T.J. and George Fant leave the Hill, and one could argue he’s already a big man that the Tops could use currently. At one point, Johnson was on the floor with four other starters – T.J., CHD, George and Trency Jackson – and it worked really well. If I had any sort of say (which, obviously, I don’t), Justin would be in the starting line up night in and night out, playing the five spot until Rostov or Ben Lawson take it from him. Yeah, I said it.

On the Cougars side of things, they were lead by their leading scorer, oddly enough, Clarke Rosenberg, who fouled out in the second half with 20 points and five rebounds. Aside from jumping out to the big lead and forcing the Tops to come from behind, the one thing the Cougars did better than WKU was rebound – The Cougs won the rebounding battle 34-27. Ouch.

That’s not good news when you have an undefeated top-5 team in the nation coming into your place next time out, and the post game remarks referenced it. But, the important thing for now, is the Tops are above .500 for the first time since being 1-0 and are ready to shock the world, er, at least nation come Saturday.