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Tops travel to Southern Miss for Saturday game

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — WKU Hilltopper Basketball finishes its short road swing at Southern Miss at 4 p.m. CT Saturday in Hattiesburg, Miss.

The Hilltoppers (11-12, 5-5 Conference USA) most recently fell 76-67 at LA Tech on Thursday.

Southern Miss (7-15, 4-6) is coming off a big 91-76 home win over Marshall on Thursday. WKU is 6-1 all-time against the Golden Eagles, including 2-1 in Hattiesburg.

WKU head coach Rick Stansbury is making his first return to Mississippi as a head coach since he left the helm at Mississippi State in 2012. He holds a 195-52 record (78.9 percent) as a head coach in games played in Mississippi, including a 1-0 record against Southern Miss.

GAME 24

WKU (11-12, 5-5 C-USA) at Southern Miss (7-15, 4-6 C-USA)
February 4, 2017 | 4 p.m. (CT)
Hattiesburg, Miss. | Reed Green Coliseum (8.095)

BROADCAST

Listen: Hilltopper IMG Sports Network (WKLX 100.7 FM flagship), TuneIn Radio (free) (Randy Lee, pxp | Hal Schmitt, analysis)
Watch: Fox College Sports, WKU PBS in Bowling Green, WBNA in Louisville (radio simulcast)
Live Stats: Gametracker

QUICK SHOTS

• WKU has made at least one 3-pointer in 929 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 nine of its last 13 games, including seven of the last nine. The Hilltoppers accomplished that feat just twice in their first 10 games this season.
• WKU has made more free throws (334) than its opponents have attempted (326). The Hilltoppers’ 31 makes vs. North Carolina A&T were their most since netting 33 vs. Ball State on Feb. 22, 2003.
• Junior Justin Johnson has made 20 of 43 shots (.465) 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 57.1 shooting percentage in league play ranks second in C-USA. Johnson is averaging 20 points and 10.3 rebounds over his last four games, and shooting 60.2 percent in his last seven.
• Graduate senior Pancake Thomas has recorded 44 total assists with just 16 turnovers over his last 13 games. He had 17 assists and 14 turnovers across his first 10 games as a Hilltoppers. In Conference USA play, Thomas is tied for third in the league with a 2.8-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
• In 11 games since the holiday break, Pancake Thomas is averaging 14.8 points per game while shooting 43.8 percent from the field and 43.4 percent from 3-point range.
• 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 81.6 percent from the stripe with 29 assists and 17 turnovers in C-USA.
• In WKU’s 10 conference games, senior forward Anton Waters is shooting 60 percent from the field with six assists and eight 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, Junior Lomomba and Ben Lawson have all reached the 100th career game milestone this season. Lawson played his 100th game as a Hilltopper against UTSA on Jan. 28, 2017.
• Pancake Thomas and Que Johnson have each reached 1,000 career points this season. Thomas reached 1,000 across his time at New Mexico, Hartford and WKU vs. UTEP on Jan. 26, 2017. Que Johnson reached 1,000 points across his time at WKU and Washington State vs. Ohio on Dec. 21, 2016.
• Justin Johnson needs 18 points this season to become the 49th player in Hilltopper Basketball history to score 1,000 career points.
• Ben Lawson ranks fourth in WKU history with 166 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.

LAST GAME AGAINST SOUTHERN MISS: MARCH 3, 2016

Aaron Cosby made seven 3-pointers and scored 25 points as WKU beat Southern Mississippi 75-60 at E.A. Diddle Arena. Cosby was 8 of 16 from the floor. Fredrick Edmond added 14 points and six rebounds for the Hilltoppers, who shot 52 percent from the field and outrebounded the Golden Eagles 33-20.

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 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. He was also named to the 24-player roster for the Jordan Brand Classic, which takes place April 14 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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.

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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