ULM (8-13) at Western Kentucky (17-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 22, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: E.A Diddle Arena (7,326) -- Bowling Green, Kentucky. Television: WKU PBS, ESPN3.com. Home Record: ULM 5-5, WKU 11-4. Away Record: ULM 3-8, WKU 6-5. Neutral Record: ULM 0-0, WKU 0-0. Conference Record: ULM 5-8, WKU 9-4. Series Record: Western Kentucky leads, 11-1.
GAME NOTES: The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers will finish up a three-game homestand on Saturday night, as they entertain the ULM Warhawks in a Sun Belt Conference clash at E.A. Diddle Arena.
Western Kentucky has hit a bump in the road recently, with losses in two of its last three games. The Hilltoppers can't afford to slide now, as they have only four more games following this bout to make up ground in the Sun Belt standings. They are 17-9 overall and in second place in the league (9-4), 2 1/2 games back of first-place Georgia State. They visit Texas State next.
The Warhawks have lost six of their last eight contests, including a 75-60 decision against league-leading Georgia State on Thursday night. They are now 8-13 overall and 5-8 in conference, which is good for only seventh place in the standings. Back-to-back home games against South Alabama and Troy are next on the schedule for ULM.
When these teams met in Monroe on Jan. 23, Western Kentucky rolled to a 69-51 victory. The Hilltoppers have always dominated the Warhawks, posting 11 wins in 12 meetings all-time.
Nick Coppola nailed four 3-pointers, scored 16 points and handed out five assists, but he did not get much support in ULM's recent loss to Georgia State. The Warhawks only connected on 37.7 percent of their shots from the floor, while being doubled up in points off turnovers (18-9).
ULM is one of the weaker offensive teams in the Sun Belt, netting a paltry 65.2 ppg to rank ninth. However, the Warhawks are rarely blown out, as they limit opponents to just under 70 ppg on 43.9 percent shooting. Tylor Ongwae (16.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) is far and away the best offensive weapon on the roster. He tallied 14 points against Georgia State, which was actually a step back from his previous two efforts in which he scored 24 and 25 points, respectively. Jayon James (9.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg) has been an inconsistent scorer this season, as illustrated by his one-point effort against Georgia State.
The Hilltoppers have been idle since last Saturday when they were handed a 69-62 setback at home by South Alabama. WKU only connected on 32.8 percent of its total shots, including a miserable 4-of-28 showing in the first 20 minutes.
Even though they have found success in terms of wins and losses, the Hilltoppers have not been an overly effective offensive team. They are netting 69.2 ppg and shooting the second-worst percentage from the floor among all Sun Belt teams (.413). T.J. Price (16.2 ppg) and George Fant (13.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg) run the show for the unit. Price managed to produce 15 points against South Alabama, but he had an off night in terms of shooting (6-of-16). Fant had a strong game, posting 17 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out. He is fourth in the Sun Belt in field goal percentage (.547), and has four double- doubles on the campaign.
Price and Gant are two of the better players in the conference and they should have no trouble keeping the Hilltoppers' in the win column against the inconsistent Warhawks.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Kentucky 72, ULM 62
02/22 10:58:45 ET