Hilltoppers drop a heartbreaker in 68-66 loss to MTSU


Five is the number that looms large over the head of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. That’s how many trips the Red and White has taken to the Murphy Center at MTSU since the Hilltoppers last won on the Blue Raiders home court. WKU entered today’s game having lost their last three tilts and found themselves in the middle of their first Conference USA losing streak in program history. A game that featured what on paper seemed to be a win by WKU proved that in a rivalry, anything is possible.

On a Sunday morning the states of Kentucky and Tennessee were beginning to thaw out from a week of wintry weather, the three ball of Middle Tennessee was red hot. Coach Ray Harper said in his post game press conference “We knew who we had to guard, and we just simply didn’t.”

Harper’s comments illustrated the long afternoon that WKU had when it came to defending MT’s shooting from beyond the arc. The Hilltoppers started the game hot and lead by seven with over 15 minutes in the 1st half. However, freshman Giddy Potts went 2-for-5 from three and finished the half with 14 points. Coming out of halftime, WKU would switch up their defense trying to stifle the three-ball threat from MTSU.

With WKU forcing the ball down low, forward Reggie Upshaw would finish the night with 10 points. Just when it seemed like for WKU that they were correcting what they needed to, Darnell Harris got wet from downtown and went 4-for-5 from three and finished the night with 14 points. Between Harris and Potts the duo would finish the night 8-for-14 for 36 points.

For the Hilltoppers just when everything seemed like they had it figured out they didn’t. George Fant was double teamed all night and still finished 8-of-11 from the floor with 19 points. When Fant was doing work down low, it was T. J. Price doing work else where. Price finished 3-of-10 from distance and 7-of-16 from the floor, totaling 24 points. On most nights when George and T. J. are both almost to or over 20 points, WKU will win. However when the opposing team shoots 60% from the floor and 52% from behind the arc, there’s very little else you can do.

For those Tops fans who HAVE to find a way to blame the game on something, yes, that was a line violation on the last second double bonus shots to end the game. Blame that, but other than that, tip your hat to Middle because someone should have called the cops the way they were shooting the lights out.

For the Hilltoppers, they have until Thursday to channel their inner Taylor Swift and shake it off as they will get set to take on FAU in Diddle.

More from Bluegrass Dominion