South Alabama (7-17) at Western Kentucky (17-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 15, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: E.A. Diddle Arena (7,326) -- Bowling Green, Kentucky. Television: WKU PBS, ESPN3.com. Home Record: USA 7-6, WKU 11-3. Away Record: USA 0-9, WKU 6-5. Neutral Record: USA 0-2, WKU 0-0. Conference Record: USA 1-10, WKU 9-3. Series record: South Alabama leads, 33-32.
GAME NOTES: Two teams headed in the opposite direction take the court when the surging Western Kentucky Hilltoppers play host to the struggling South Alabama Jaguars. It will be the final Sun Belt Conference regular season meeting between these teams.
With seven wins in their last eight games, the Hilltoppers find themselves in second place in the conference behind Georgia State, which is 10-0 in the Sun Belt. South Alabama is 1-10 in the Sun Belt and has yet to win on the road in nine tries. Additionally, the Jaguars have dropped six straight and 12 of their last 13 contests.
Western Kentucky is coming off an 81-76 home win over Troy Thursday. T.J. Price notched 22 points to lead the Hilltoppers, who also received 16 points from George Fant and 10 from O'Karo Akamune.
Price (16.3 ppg) leads the offense for WKU, while Fant (13.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg) paces the squad with 22 blocks and is shooting 55 percent from the field, which is fifth-best in the conference. Harrison-Docks (10.2 ppg) and Trency Jackson (10.1 ppg) are major offensive contributors for a team that is averaging 69.4 ppg and is second in the Sun Belt on defense by allowing 67.3 ppg. The Hilltoppers have the top rebounding margin (+4.6), but are shooting only 41.7 percent from the field, which is next-to-last in conference play.
The Jaguars suffered an 85-61 home loss to Arkansas State Thursday. Augustine Rubit paced South Alabama with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor. Antoine Allen had 10 points and Barrington Stevens dealt out six assists.
South Alabama is led offensively by Rubit (17.0 ppg, 9.3 rpg), who is shooting 64 percent from the field over his last four contests. The problem has been when he plays against the Hilltoppers, Rubit is making only 32.7 percent from the floor over his last three such games. He enters tonight's game with 1,798 career points, which is three shy of Ed Rains for third place in South Alabama history. Earlier this year, Rubit became the South Alabama and Sun Belt Conference career rebounding leader. Barrington Stevens III (7.1 ppg) had six assists Thursday night. Allen (10.8 ppg) is shooting just 37 percent from the field, including 35.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Western Kentucky won the first meeting of the season at South Alabama, 58-56, on Jan. 2. Chris Harrison-Docks hit a floater in the lane with 4.3 seconds left to lift the Hilltoppers to victory. Each of the last eight encounters have been decided by single digits. The Hilltoppers are 11-1 when playing on Saturdays this season. A win tonight would be WKU's 10th in conference play, which would equal last season's total in the Sun Belt.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Kentucky 72, South Alabama 64
02/15 10:19:19 ET