Hilltoppers begin Conference USA play on Sunday at Marshall

WKU defeated Brescia 93-66 to improve to 8-5 overall as it prepares to begin Conference USA play

Following a lackluster first half that saw WKU holding a slim 45-39 lead over Brescia University, a NAIA program that plays in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conferece, the Hilltoppers used a 35-9 run to open the second half to pull away and win easily 93-66 to improve to 8-5 overall.

Aaron Cosby led WKU with 20 points, with 18 of that coming from beyond the three-point arc. Freshman Marlon Hunter contributed a career-best 13 points and a career-high six steals, the most for a Hilltopper since Chris Robinson had six versus Southwest Louisiana on Feb. 18, 1996. Forward Justin Johnson added 15 points and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.

WKU shot 67 percent from the floor in the second half and 56 percent for the game.

Up next for WKU is a trip to Huntington, W.V. to begin Conference USA play with Sunday afternoon contest at Marshall.

The Herd (4-9) is among the nation's leaders and tops in C-USA in three-point field goals made and they are league's leaders in steals with over eight per outing.  Marshall has already had multiple players earn league Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week honors. The challenge of opening league play on the road against an improving oppenent that wishes to create chaos on both ends of the floor is one that WKU head coach Ray Harper isn't sure his squad is ready to face.

"We've got five days to try and get ready," he said. "We're going to face an explosive team on Sunday. James Kelly was the Conference USA Player of the Week this week, Ryan Taylor has been Player of the Week, Burkes has been the Freshman of the Week three different times and last time I checked we don't have anyone that's been Player of the Week and we don't have anyone that has been Freshman of the Week. We're going to have to be all locked in and we are going to have to do it together and we are going to have to do it on the defensive end. They shoot a lot of three's and they will make some, but we can't give those guys the uncontested open three's. We have to be locked in, so it's a good thing that we have five days to look at film and get ready."

As the Hilltoppers begin league play, they enjoy the third best overall record among conference members, and are among the leaders in many of the statistical categories.

It's a league that Harper believes is "wide open."

"It's going to be about protecting your home floor and then going and then going on the road and stealing five or six wins if you are going to win the league," he said. "I think we can, but we got to get a lot better."

NOTEBOOK:

  • On the suspension of guard Chris Harrison-Docks: "It's indefinite. It could be tomorrow, it could we bring him back Sunday, it could be a month from now. I don't know. He's got some things, some specifics that we want him to do. He'll be back, but its just a matter of I want the timing to be right. I don't want to bring him back, just to be bring him back.

  • WKU is currently among C-USA's top three in scoring offense (78.5), field goal percentage (.473), three-point field goal percentage (.382), rebounding margin (+4.3), blocked shots (5.5) and three-point field goals made (7.85).

  • Sophomore Justin Johnson is currently seventh in C-USA in scoring with 16.5 ppg.  He ranks fourth in the league with 8.5 rebounds per outing.  His .647 field goal shooting is second.

  • Freshman Chris McNeal's 4.92 assists per game average is fifth among C-USA players.

  • Nigel Snipes .443 three-point accuracy is third best in the league.

  • UAB currently has the longest winning streak in C-USA with six straight.


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