George Fant logs career night as WKU basketball outlasts North Texas


I know we’ve said something along the lines of “I don’t know how it happened, but it happened,” when referencing a WKU basketball victory this conference season, but tonight is the ultimate example of that. Somehow, some way, the Hilltoppers escaped E.A. Diddle Arena with a 65-59 victory over old Sun Belt friends North Texas, thanks in large part to a career day from George Fant and key non-statistical production from some bench players.

The game got off to a slow, and I mean sloowwww start, as there were 10 total points scored through the first seven and a half minutes of play, but when points did start to come, they did so quickly, and nearly all of them came on the Hilltoppers side of the scoreboard, as WKU used a 22-5 first half run to jump out to a 33-17 lead.

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For most teams, that’s when its safe to head for the exits. But not the Tops. Oh no no no no. North Texas not only closed the first half on a 12-3 run to make it a 34-25 game at halftime, but they also started the second half on a 20-9 run to not only make a game out of things, but to take a lead at 47-46.

After that point, we had ourselves a good, old-fashioned basketball game, as the Tops and Mean Green would trade buckets and runs. One team would score three in a row, only to have four in a row scored on the other side.

With 3:02 to play, Trency Jackson (who, honestly, didn’t have a solid night and saw limited play due to foul trouble) hit a three pointer from the corner to give WKU a 60-59 lead that they’d never relinquish, as the Tops scored the final 11 points over the final 3:45 of the game to take the win. It wasn’t pretty, but hey, a win is a win.

That career day for Fant I spoke of in our open? He set a new career high in rebounds, grabbing 16 boards to go along with 14 points. The double-doubles are back! T.J. Price lead all scorers with 19 points, but struggled from beyond the three point line, often times over-shooting the basket even when he was already from NBA-ish distance.

As a matter of fact, everyone who took the floor tonight struggled from distance, as the Tops shot 20.8% from downtown (5-24) while North Texas went 12.5% (2-16). The rest of the percentages aren’t pretty either – WKU shot 43.9% from the floor and 38.5% from the free throw line. How exactly did they win again?

Where the Tops did excel at tonight was production from the bench, especially the play of Brandon Price, DJ Clayton and Ben LawsonNo one of that trio put up eye-popping numbers (well, Stretch did net eight points on 4-of-5 shooting), but they all had a tremendous impact during the Hilltoppers’ first half run. Price and Clayton both controlled the tempo of the game, allowing guys like T.J. and Trency to play a little bit down low, along with Justin Johnsonhow played key first half minutes but was nearly nowhere to be found in the second.

It’s one of those games where you’re going to have a hard time explaining it to coworkers in the morning, but hey, a win’s a win, right? Oh, and one more thing.