WKU hosts Florida Atlantic at Diddle Arena on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. and will be attempting to avoid it's first 0-3 start in league play since 2010-11. The Owls have dropped eight straight contests and stand a 2-13 overall. The Hilltoppers are currently 11 point favorites.
Here's a quick notebook on WKU hoops:
While WKU didn't have a representative on the Conference USA preseason team, sophomore Justin Johnson is having the type of season that will guarantee him a spot on the more notable post season honors.
The forward continues to top WKU in numerous categories. Not only does he lead the team in scoring (17.5) and rebounding (8.1), Johnson is also the leader in field goal percentage, where he's eighth nationally at 66 percent, and free throws made. He has scored in double figures in 13 consecutive outings and his five double-doubles is tied for third most in C-USA.
The type of season that the Hazard, Ky., native is enjoying has him on pace to join the WKU elite. Should he finish out the season at his current averages, he'd be the first Hilltopper to average 17 points and 8 rebounds in a season since Greg Jackson in 1978-79.
Freshman guard Chris McNeal is another indicator of the rising potential of this WKU squad.
A starter in all but one game, the product of Jackson, Tenn., is quickly adapting to the speed of the college game. Through 15 games, McNeal had handed out a team-high 74 assists with just 27 turnovers. His 2.7 assist to turnover ratio is third best among all freshmen nationally and 54th overall.
Progress and development on the defensive end is often an indicator of a young team and the rebuilt Hilltoppers continue to seek improvement in the area throughout conference play.
Here's a glance at how WKU stacks up in Conference USA and nationally.
|CATEGORY||AVG||C-USA RK||NAT'L RK|
|FG % Defense||44.3||8||242|
|3 pt FG %||36.2||3||100|
|3 pt FG % Def.||39.1||11||328|
|Assists / Game||14.3||5||126|
|Blocks / Game||5.4||2||27|
|Steals / Game||4.2||14||334|
|Assists / Turns Ratio||1.09||6||145|
With each league member with at least a pair of conference games completed, just four teams remain undefeated in C-USA action. UAB, Old Dominion, FIU and Marshall are each 2-0. On the flip side, there are also four teams that have yet to notch its first conference victory, with WKU, Rice, Southern Miss and Florida Atlantic all searching for their first C-USA win.
Led by UAB and Louisiana Tech, both at 12-3 overall, there are seven Conference USA teams with winning records. Additionally, Middle Tennessee (9-5), UTEP (10-6), Old Dominion (9-6), FIU (8-7) and WKU (8-7) all currently sit about .500 overall.
Conference USA is currently projected as a one-team league for the NCAA Tournament, with Louisiana Tech the current favorite to earn the automatic bid. La Tech currently checks in at No. 92 in the RPI, followed by UAB at No. 128 and Old Dominion at No. 139. The Hilltoppers are currently No. 171.