Hilltoppers start Florida swing against FAU tonight


You’d be hard pressed to find a team playing better basketball right now in Conference USA. Much like their lady counterparts (who we previewed this morning), the Fella Tops are on a roll, having won five games in a row, six games out of their last seven, and eight of their last 10. Not bad, not bad.

The most recent of these wins came last Saturday against the then 25th ranked Old Dominion Monarchs, and the confidence the Hilltoppers showed during the game only grew after the win, and they finally get to hit the floor again tonight, this time for the school’s first ever road Conference USA game against Florida Atlantic.

The key question going into tonight is this – can George Fant pick up where he left off against Old Dominion? The senior Hilltoppers’ leader recorded his fourth straight double-double in less than 20 minutes on Saturday, and in all reality, you could really chalk up the victory over Charlotte a week ago with Fant as well. Once the Tops started going cold from distance, they tried to work Fant inside and it worked to great success.

Now, we know better than anyone that WKU is going to shoot the daylights out of the basketball. That’s just the team they are, and in the grand scheme of things, there’s nothing wrong with that. But, they (players and coaches) have to be weary that, if the team goes cold from distance, there are several options to go down low, and Fant truly can be a difference maker and game changer.

Now, having said that, Fant can’t do it alone. He’s going to need some offensive help, and I think T.J. Price is due. T.J. did record 15 points in the ODU win, but a bulk of those came in the second half to keep the distance between the Hilltoppers and Monarchs. If T.J. can establish a jump-shot game, and simultaneously George is established down low – watch out. Also, fun side note – just one point tonight will make T.J. the 15th player in WKU history to score 1,500 points.

FAU handled their non-conference schedule fairly well, escaping with an above-.500 record, but haven’t won in conference play yet this season. They do have some fire power in their starting line up, lead by Georgia Tech transfer Solomon Poole, who’s averaging just a hair under 15 points per game. Jackson Trapp and Marquan Botley also are averaging in double figures, each coming into tonight with a 11.2 ppg mark.

Outside of those three, there isn’t really much to talk about in terms of scoring. The bench isn’t very strong and neither are the big men when it comes to points, so if the the Tops’ defense can shut down the trio of guards, they’ll be in business.

Also, if they control the boards just like they did Saturday, this game will be over by halftime. No one on the Owls’ roster averages double figures in rebounds, and the closes one is senior forward (the only senior in FAU’s starting lineup) Kelvin Penn, who averages 6.8.

The Hilltoppers are on a roll, and I don’t see that slowing down tonight. No TV tonight, unless you want to pay for the C-USA online video subscription (and, if any of you guys do have it, want to hook your favorite editor up with the info?), so you’ll have to resort to Randy Lee on the call. Tip off is at six.