HILLTOPPERS HOST RICE ON SATURDAY’S SENIOR NIGHT
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU Hilltopper Basketball finishes the regular season against Rice at 7 p.m. CT Saturday at E.A. Diddle Arena.
The Hilltoppers (14-16, 8-9 Conference USA) will be either the No. 8 or No. 9 seed in next week’s 2017 C-USA Men’s Basketball Championship presented by MetroPCS, with that seeding to be determined Saturday. WKU will honor its five seniors at 6:40 p.m. before the finale.
Rice (21-9, 11-6) has won three straight games, including an 89-88 victory at Marshall on Thursday. The Owls lead the all-time series against WKU 2-1. WKU head coach Rick Stansbury has never faced Rice.
Rice (21-9, 11-6 C-USA) at WKU (14-16, 8-9 C-USA)
March 4, 2017 | 7 p.m. (CT)
Bowling Green, Ky. | E.A. Diddle Arena (7,326)
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, WBNA (radio simulcast)
Live Stats: Gametracker
• WKU has made at least one 3-pointer in 936 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 13 of its last 20 games, including 11 of the last 16. The Hilltoppers accomplished that feat just twice in their first 10 games this season.
• WKU has attempted 174 more free throws (608) and made 103 more (409) than its opponents. 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 23 of 61 shots (.377) from 3-point range this year after netting just one 3-pointer over his first two seasons. His 55.7 percent career field goal shooting percentage would currently rank seventh in WKU history, and his 56 percent shooting percentage in league play leads C-USA. Johnson is averaging 16.3 points, 11 rebounds and 2.5 assists over his last 11 games.
• Justin Johnson is the first Hilltopper with at least four games of 14-plus rebounds in a season since Nigel Dixon in 2003-04. He could become the first WKU player to shoot at least 50 percent from the field and make at least 20 3-pointers in a season since Orlando Mendez-Valdez in 2006-07.
• Graduate senior Pancake Thomas has recorded 60 total assists with just 27 turnovers over his last 19 games. He had 17 assists and 14 turnovers across his first 10 games as a Hilltoppers.
• Pancake Thomas has 10 games this season with at least four made 3s, including eight of his last 13. He’s tied for 10th in WKU history for most made 3s in a season with 74.
• 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 82.7 percent from the stripe with 36 assists and 27 turnovers in C-USA.
• In WKU’s 17 conference games, senior forward Anton Waters is shooting 58 percent from the field with eight assists and 15 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.
• Justin Johnson became the 49th member of WKU’s 1,000-point club on Feb. 11 against Marshall, and he now ranks 39th on WKU’s all-time scoring list. Graduate transfers Que Johnson and Pancake Thomas also reached 1,000 career points this season, giving the Hilltoppers three players with 1,000 career points for the first time since A.J. Slaughter, Jeremy Evans and Steffphon Pettigrew in 2009-10.
• Senior forward Ben Lawson ranks fourth in WKU history with 182 career blocked shots. Lawson joins Wilborn, Jeremy Evans and Chris Marcus as Hilltoppers with at least 50 blocks in multiple seasons, and he and Evans are the only Tops with three seasons of at least 50 blocks.
Senior Day Card Giveaway: First 500 fans receive a commemorative WKU men’s basketball seniors card.
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.
LAST GAME AGAINST RICE: JANUARY 14, 2016
Marquez Letcher-Ellis and Connor Cashaw scored 20 points apiece as Rice closed with a 21-3 run to come from behind and beat WKU 83-73 in Houston. Letcher-Ellis hit 5 of 6 field goal attempts and made 10 of 14 from the line. WKU had a 35-34 lead at the half and pushed that to 65-57 midway through the second period. Aaron Cosby had 23 points and Marlon Hunter added 12 for the Hilltoppers.
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. At the end of January, Robinson was named one of 24 players for the Jordan Brand Classic, another star-studded all-star game that takes place April 14 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Previous participants include LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.
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.