WKU has dropped back-to-back games this week on the road against Murray State and VCU, and Saturday's game against Louisville will mark the second-straight season WKU has matched up with a Final Four team from the previous year, joining 2011 Final Four participant VCU during WKU's 2011-12 non-conference schedule.
WKU returns to the scene of a November 30, 2008 win against third-ranked Louisville, where WKU captured a 68-54 victory against the Cardinals behind 25 points from A.J. Slaughter and 17 points and 12 rebounds from Steffphon Pettigrew.
WKU's last two games in the downtown Nashville arena have resulted in Hilltopper victories, and both have come against ranked opponents.
After Saturday's game, WKU will turn its attention to Sun Belt Conference play and host FIU and North Texas in Bowling Green next weekend. FIU is coached by Richard Pitino, the son of Louisville coach Rick Pitino.
Saturday's game will be televised nationally on ESPNU with Jim Barbar and Bob Knight doing the commentary. It will also be broadcast on the radio on the Hilltopper IMG Sports Network with Randy Lee and Hal Schmitt on the call. Live stats and live audio are available on WKUSports.com.
WKU (8-4, 2-0 SBC) vs. #5 Louisville (10-1, 0-0 BIG EAST)
December 22, 2012 // 7:30 PM (CT)
Nashville, Tenn. // Bridgestone Arena (19,395)
• WKU has won six of its last eight games and 15 of its last 20 games overall.
• WKU's three games this week are against teams that went a combined 90-19 in 2011-12 and had at least one victory in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
• The combined record of the four teams that have defeated WKU in 2012-13 is 35-9 (Southern Miss, 8-3; Iowa, 10-2; Murray State, 9-1; VCU, 8-3).
• WKU is 6-24 all-time against teams ranked in the top 5 of the national polls.
• Five different Hilltoppers have missed at least one game this season due to injury, comprising four would-be starters and a key reserve (Crook, Price, Snipes, Fant, Dickerson).
• WKU earned its eighth win of the season on December 8, and last season's eighth win did not come until February 4.
• WKU leads the Sun Belt Conference and ranks 35th in the nation in rebounding margin.
• Teeng Akol is two blocked shots away from tying Courtney Lee (2005-08) for ninth place on WKU's career blocked shots list with 78.
THE LAST TIME OUT
VCU's trademark defensive pressure gave a depleted WKU team trouble Tuesday night in Richmond, Va., and WKU dropped a 76-44 decision in front of the 24th-straight sellout crowd at Verizon Wireless Arena. George Fant led WKU with eight points and eight rebounds. Kevin Kaspar added eight and five, and Brandon Harris, Percy Blade and Aleksejs Rostov each had seven points. VCU was paced by four players in double figures, led by Briante Weber's 13. The Hilltoppers had 32 turnovers on the night, which led to 34 Ram points.
HILLTOPPER INDIVIDUAL TRENDS
• T.J. Price has scored in double figures in each of his last eight games and 10 of his last 11.
• George Fant has had at least 10 points in 12 of his last 17 games.
• T.J. Price has hit multiple three-pointers in 18 of his last 24 games.
• Jamal Crook has had 20 double digit scoring games in 46 games since the start of his junior season after having just one in 63 games in his freshman and sophomore seasons.
• Five of the eight highest-scoring games of Jamal Crook's WKU career came in the first eight games of the 2012-13 season.
• Jamal Crook needs one assist to tie Anthony Palm (1990-91) for ninth place on WKU's career assists list at 308.
• Caden Dickerson has made 56 of his last 68 free throw attempts (.824).
HILLTOPPER TEAM TRENDS
• WKU has used seven different starting lineups in 12 games in 2012-13.
• As early as the 10th game of the season, WKU did not have any players who had started every game of the season.
• WKU is 15-5 under head coach Ray Harper when allowing fewer than 70 points in a game.
• WKU has made at least five three-pointers in six-straight games.
• WKU has come back to win eight of the last 14 times it has trailed at halftime, compared to losing 12-straight in that situation before that.
• WKU has faced a double-digit deficit at one point in 32 of its last 39 losses dating back to the start of the 2010-11 season.
• In the last 28 games, WKU is holding opponents to 67.3 points per game and is 19-9 in that stretch.
• WKU is 2-0 in Sun Belt Conference play for the first time since 2009-10.
• WKU has won 10-straight home games after losing four-in-a-row before that.
• WKU's current 10-game home winning streak is its longest since winning 15-in-a-row at E.A. Diddle Arena spanning the end of the 2007-08 season (1), the entire 2008-09 season (13) and the start of the 2009-10 campaign (1).
• The Hilltoppers have advanced to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament eight-straight times and in 21 instances in 30 years as a member of the league dating to 1983.
• WKU has won at least one game in each of its last three NCAA Tournament appearances (2008, 2009, 2012).
• Since 1993 WKU has seven NCAA Tournament wins to its credit, and the rest of the Sun Belt Conference is a combined 0-14.