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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 23, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: E.A. Riddle Arena (11,520) -- Bowling Green, Kentucky. Television: WKUSports.tv. Home Record: Samford 1-0, WKU 2-0. Away Record: Samford 0-4, WKU 0-1. Neutral Record: Samford 0-0, WKU 0-0. Conference Record: Samford 0-0, WKU 0-0. Series Record: WKU leads, 7-0.
GAME NOTES: The Roundball Showcase concludes on Saturday for the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers as they play host to the Samford Bulldogs at E.A. Riddle Arena.
The Hilltoppers have won their first two games of this tournament with sound defense, holding East Tennessee State and UNC Wilmington to 50 and 58 points, respectively. Western Kentucky moved to 2-1 on the young season with the victory, dropping its season opener at Wichita State (66-49), before rallying back with the wins over the Bucs and Seahawks.
Samford has been decidedly less effective on the defensive side of the ball, though the Bulldogs have played their last four games on the road against stiff competition. They dropped Thursday's matchup to East Tennessee State, 89-75, in a game that saw Samford get outscored, 42-21, over the final 13-plus minutes. The loss was the fourth in five games for the Bulldogs, whose sole victory came in the season opener against Martin Methodist (79-62).
WKU has won all seven meetings against Samford, though the last time they met was nearly 27 years ago on December 13, 1986.
Tim Williams and Raijon Kelly provided most of Samford's offense last time out with 21 and 20 points, respectively. The Bulldogs were beaten soundly on the glass, 41-28, and watched ETSU score 12 more second-chance points (17-5) in Thursday's setback.
That's been the story in the early going so far, as Samford has been getting outrebounded by nearly nine boards per game. Williams has nonetheless been filling the stat sheet, as he leads the team in points (14.6 ppg) and rebounds (9.8 rpg) while shooting a crisp 48 percent from the floor. Kelly is posting 13.6 points per outing, while Isaiah Williams and Tyler Hood are both sitting at just under 10 ppg.
George Fant finished with 16 points and eight rebounds to lead the way for WKU in Thursday's game against UNC Wilmington, which was the program's eighth straight game holding an opponent to fewer than 70 points. Fant was joined in double figures in the win by T.J. Price and Caden Dickerson, who chipped in 14 and 12 points, respectively.
The Hilltoppers, the Sun Belt Conference preseason favorites, figure to have the advantage down low Saturday, as they have outrebounded their three opponents by 4.3 boards per game. Fant leads the team in that department (7.7 rpg) to go with 11.7 ppg, while Price has put up a team-high 14.7 ppg.
A win would give the Hilltoppers their first 3-1 start since 2010-11. Expect them to do so against a travel-worn Samford program that is still trying to find its legs.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Kentucky 70, Samford 55
11/23 10:43:59 ET
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