WKU Welcomes No. 25 Old Dominion to Diddle


For the second time this season, WKU will play a ranked team inside Diddle Arena. This time, it is an important Conference USA matchup against No. 25 Old Dominion.

More from Bluegrass Dominion

ODU (13-1, 2-0 C-USA) enters the game ranked for the first time in program history, fresh off a 72-51 victory at Marshall on Thursday. The Monarchs are ridding a 10-game winning streak, and will look to keep things rolling against the Hilltoppers.

But WKU has been on a roll itself, winning its last four games and eight of its last 10. The Hilltoppers have accomplished their recent success by eliminating turnovers and hitting three-pointers at a high rate.

After averaging 16.7 turnovers per game in their first seven games, the Hilltoppers have averaged 11 over their last seven games (including three games of nine or less), leading up to committing just four turnovers in Thursday’s 74-66 win against Charlotte — the least amount of turnovers committed by a WKU team since 1986.

In addition to cutting down on turnovers, WKU has also had the hot hand shooting from deep. The Hilltoppers have hit 10 or more three pointers in five or their last six games. Against Charlotte, they connected on their first seven attempts from beyond the arc.

However, the Hilltoppers won’t be able to rely on the three-ball today if they want to win, because the Monarchs rank eighth nationally in scoring defense. WKU will have to play good defense itself, and find a way to get good looks inside against ODU’s stiff defense.

Luckily for the Hilltoppers, George Fant has been fantastic in his last three contests, collecting double-doubles in each game (the longest streak of consecutive double-doubles in his career). WKU will need another big performance from Fant today in order to get a victory.

Defensively, the Hilltoppers must focus on Monarch point guard Trey Freeman. Freeman transferred to ODU from Campbell, and has made an immediate impact for the Monarchs this season. He averages 16.0 points and 3.4 assists per game, and facilitates ODU’s offense. If WKU can limit his impact on offense, it will increase the chances for a Hilltopper victory.

In addition to Freeman, WKU must also watch out for Aaron Bacote. Bacote is an all-conference performer who has had a disappointing season compared to his normal production. He is averaging 9.1 points per game (down from 15.5 a season ago), but flashed his offensive talents against VCU earlier this season, scoring 31 points while shooting a perfect 8-of-8 from the field. If he has another game like that against WKU, you might as well give the game to the Monarchs.

The Louisville game earlier this season received all of the attention, but this will likely be the most important game played at Diddle this year. It is a opportunity for WKU to earn a resume-building win at home against a ranked opponent. The game will also have major implications on the race for the C-USA crown, as WKU and ODU both have realistic championship aspirations.

The game tips off today at 4:30 p.m., and will be televised on the American Sports Network and WKU-PBS (tape delay). You can follow along with Wave the Red Towel on social media during the game by clicking the follow button below.