Recap: WKU 81, Ole Miss 74

The Toppers fought back from a 17-point deficit to steal a win in Oxford.

Four Hilltoppers reached double figures, as Western Kentucky fought back from a 17-point deficit to beat Ole Miss 81-74 in Oxford (Miss.) on Saturday night.

The quartet was led by senior T.J Price with 26 points on 7-for-14 shooting, followed by senior George Fant with 17, sophomore Chris Harrison-Docks with 12, and senior Trency Jackson with 10.

"It means a lot for us," said Price, to the Bowling Green Daily News. "This is a team that's starting off slow.

"We knew we can always be good, but we were just real close to getting over that hump. This one kind of set the pace for that and gave us a lot of confidence."

True freshmen Justin Johnson and D.J Clayton also contributed major minutes, combining for 11 points on 3-for-5 shooting, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and 1 turnover in 43 total minutes.

Trailing 45-32 at halftime, WKU was down as much as 56-40 with 14:49 to play, before a Ben Lawson dunk ignited a furious rally from the team in red.

"At halftime, no one was upset," Johnson said. "It was a double-digit lead, but we just knew we had to get stops. We knew things would come to us offensively, but if we got some stops and boards, we'd be right there."

How does such a resurgence happen? Layups from Price and Fant, three-pointers from four different Toppers, and 15-for-15 second-half free throws as a team.

The Toppers closed the gap to 10 points (57-47) at the 12:46 mark, 4 points (57-53) at the 9:42 mark, and completed the comeback (58-57) with 8:20 to play.

Ole Miss quickly retook the lead at 60-58 on a three-pointer from Stefan Moody--who finished the game 6-for-11 from long-distance--but WKU answered with another "3" of their own from Price, taking a 61-60 lead with 7:04 remaining.

WKU extended their lead to 67-63 on a Price three-pointer with 4:31 remaining, and Fant followed with a jumper with 3:26 to play, growing the lead to 6.

"I think the difference tonight was we made free throws and took care of the ball," Harper said. "It's easy to sit here and say that's all we have to do to have at least two more wins, but it is.

"We had some guys really step up. We had seniors play like seniors, and we had freshmen play like upperclassmen."

Next, the Toppers (4-4 overall) host Chicago State (2-8 overall) on Wednesday, Dec. 17, the first of a seven-game home stretch for the program.


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