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GAME NOTES: Toppers return home for Thursday game against UTEP

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — After playing 12 of 16 games on the road, WKU Hilltopper Basketball enters the home stretch of its season against UTEP at 7 p.m. CT Thursday at E.A. Diddle Arena.

The Hilltoppers (9-11, 3-4), who have played four home games in more than two calendar months, most recently fell 94-80 at Marshall on Saturday. WKU will play seven of its final 11 regular-season games at home.

UTEP (5-13, 3-3) lost 12 straight games at one point this season, but has turned it around in league play with three straight victories, including two in overtime. The Miners most recently defeated UTSA 59-39 on Saturday.

WKU is 2-1 all-time against UTEP, winning its only home matchup in 2015. WKU head coach Rick Stansbury has never faced the Miners.

GAME 21

UTEP (5-13, 3-3 C-USA) at WKU (9-11, 3-4 C-USA)
January 26, 2017 | 7 p.m. (CT)
Bowling Green, Ky. | E.A. Diddle Arena (7,326)

BROADCAST

Listen: Hilltopper IMG Sports Network (WKLX 100.7 FM flagship), TuneIn Radio (free) (Randy Lee, pxp | Hal Schmitt, analysis)
Watch: beIN SPORTS (Mike Gleason, pxp | Jason Capel, analysis)
Live Stats: Gametracker

QUICK SHOTS

• Pancake Thomas needs just four points to reach 1,000 for his career across his time at New Mexico, Hartford and WKU. Que Johnson reached 1,000 points across his time at WKU and Washington State vs. Ohio on 12/21/16.
• WKU has made at least one 3-pointer in 926 consecutive games, dating back to March 15, 1987. The 3-point shot was instituted prior to the 1986-87 season.
• WKU has had an even or better assist-to-turnover ratio in seven of its last 10 games, including five of the last six. The Hilltoppers accomplished that feat just twice in their first 10 games this season.
• WKU has made more free throws (291) than its opponents have attempted (290). The Hilltoppers’ 31 makes vs. North Carolina A&T were their most since netting 33 vs. Ball State on Feb. 22, 2003.
• WKU had six players score in double figures at Marshall on Jan. 21, 2017. It was the first time the Hilltoppers have accomplished that feat since Jan. 29, 2005, at New Mexico State.
• Junior Justin Johnson has made 16 of 34 shots (.471) from 3-point range this year after netting just one 3-pointer over his first two seasons. His 55.9 percent career field goal shooting percentage would currently rank fifth in WKU history, and his 57.8 shooting percentage in league play ranks third in C-USA.
• Graduate senior Pancake Thomas has recorded 36 total assists with just 11 turnovers over his last 10 games. He had 17 assists and 14 turnovers across his first 10 games as a Hilltoppers. In Conference USA play, Thomas ranks second in the league with a 3.3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
• Graduate senior Que Johnson shot 67.3 percent from the free-throw line with 17 assists and 29 turnovers in nonconference play. He’s shooting 82.8 percent from the stripe with 22 assists and 11 turnovers in C-USA.
• In WKU’s seven conference games, senior forward Anton Waters is shooting 64.3 percent from the field with six assists and five turnovers. He shot 48.3 percent with two assists and 17 turnovers in nonconference play.
• Justin Johnson and graduate transfer seniors Que Johnson, Pancake Thomas and Junior Lomomba have each started every game this season. WKU hasn’t had at least four players start every game in a season since the 2002-03 campaign.
• Que Johnson, Pancake Thomas and Junior Lomomba have all reached the 100th career game milestone this season. Senior Ben Lawson (98 games) is also nearing the benchmark.
• Justin Johnson needs 77 points this season to become the 49th player in Hilltopper Basketball history to score 1,000 career points.
• Ben Lawson is tied for fourth in WKU history with Elgrace Wilborn with 161 career blocked shots. His 66 blocks in 2015-16 were the seventh-most in a season in Hilltopper history. Lawson joins Wilborn, Jeremy Evans and Chris Marcus as Hilltoppers with at least 50 blocks in multiple seasons.

ROBINSON NAMED WKU’S FIRST MCDONALD’S ALL AMERICAN

WKU signee Mitchell Robinson was named a McDonald’s All American on Jan. 27, the first in program history. Robinson – a 7-foot, five-star center from Chalmette (La.) High School – is one of 24 players nationally selected for the prestigious all-star game, which brings together the top high school talent across the country and is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The final roster was announced live on ESPNU, with Robinson selected for the East squad. The McDonald’s All American Game is set for March 29 at the United Center in Chicago.

WKU has never had a McDonald’s All American in its storied basketball history. Robinson is the first McDonald’s All American from Conference USA since Memphis’ Shaq Goodwin in 2012. Robinson is also the sixth McDonald’s All American signed by WKU’s Rick Stansbury as a head coach, joining standouts Mario Austin, Renardo Sidney, Monta Ellis, Travis Outlaw and Jonathan Bender from Stansbury’s tenure at Mississippi State. Fellow WKU signees Josh Anderson and Taveion Hollingsworth were also nominated for the McDonald’s All American Game. Robinson was also recently named one of 25 midseason candidates for the boys’ high school Naismith Trophy, as presented by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Ten semifinalists for that national award will be announced Feb. 7.

TAKING CARE OF THE CLASSROOM

Despite a changing coaching staff and large roster turnover, the Hilltoppers turned in a stellar academic effort in the Fall 2016 semester with a team GPA of 3.18. Nine players finished the semester with a GPA of 3.0 or better – including five players with at least a 3.5 – and all players finished with at least a 2.5 GPA.

PROMOTIONS

Mister B’s Weekday Two-Pack: Two tickets to the game and a small pizza for $25. Offer valid online and at the Diddle Box Office (while supplies last).
Student Food Giveaway: Free Buffalo Wild Wings for the first 500 students inside the student entrance on the second level concourse beginning at 6:30 p.m.

TICKETS

WKU Ticket Office: Online at WKUTickets.com, in person at E.A. Diddle Arena, via phone at 1-800-5-BIG Red or 745-5222 locally.

MED CENTER HEALTH

The 2016-17 WKU Basketball season is presented by Med Center Health. With The Medical Center at its core, Med Center Health has served Southcentral Kentucky for 90 years, and its system of care includes six acute care hospitals, a complete network of immediate to emergency services and services in dozens of specialties. Whether it is emergency treatment for heart attack victims or preventative programs to improve the health of the communities it serves, Med Center Health is committed to providing the highest level of care and service.

How to follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Hilltopper Basketball, follow the team’s social media channels, @WKUBasketball on Twitter, @WKUBasketball on Instagram, and WKU Basketball on Facebook.

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