NEW YORK — WKU Hilltopper Basketball has advanced to the NIT semifinals for the
first time since 1954 and will face Pac-12 foe Utah for a spot in the championship
game at 7 p.m. CT Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The fourth-seeded Hilltoppers knocked off three Power 5 programs (Boston College,
USC, Oklahoma State) to reach the Final Four, including the last two on the road.
Utah won at top-seeded Saint Mary’s in overtime to advance to the semis.
WKU and head coach Rick Stansbury have never faced the Utes before.
No. 4 WKU (27-10) vs. No. 2 Utah (22-11)
March 27, 2018 | 6 p.m. CT
Madison Square Garden | New York
Listen: Hilltopper IMG Sports Network (WKLX 100.7 FM flagship), WKUSports.tv (free), TuneIn Radio
(free) (Randy Lee, pxp | Hal Schmitt, analysis)
Watch: ESPN (Bob Wischusen, pxp | Fran Fraschilla, analysis)
• WKU has made at least one 3-pointer in 975 consecutive games, dating back to March
15, 1987. The 3-point shot was instituted prior to the 1986-87 season. The
Hilltoppers’ streak is the fifth-longest in the nation behind UNLV, Vanderbilt, Duke
• WKU is 4-1 against the Power 5 conferences this season with wins over Big Ten,
ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 teams in the same year for the first time in program
• This year’s squad is the 10th in program history to win at least 27 games. The 27
victories tie for the most in a season for head coach Rick Stansbury, who also won
27 games in 2001-02 at Mississippi State.
• WKU has 12 wins this season against programs with at least 20 victories: Old
Dominion (3 times), UAB (2), Marshall (2), Purdue (1), Wright State (1), Nicholls
(1), USC (1) and Oklahoma State (1).
• WKU’s current scoring average of 78.8 points per game would be the program’s
highest since 1994-95.
• WKU ranks eighth in the country in field goal percentage and first in Conference
USA at 49.7 percent. That percentage would rank eighth for a single season in
• The Hilltoppers have outscored their opponents 1,450-1,063 in the paint this
• WKU ranks 10th in the country with 138 dunks against Division I competition,
according to Ken Pomeroy.
• Justin Johnson has recorded a double-double in seven of the last 11 games. He has
39 career double-doubles and 15 this season.
• Justin Johnson is on pace to become the first Hilltopper to lead the team in both
scoring and rebounding in three straight seasons since Jim McDaniels did it from
• Justin Johnson leads C-USA in rebounding at 9.4 boards per game. He could become
the first player to lead the league in rebounding average in back-to-back years
since Memphis’ Joey Dorsey from 2006-08.
• As of Thursday, Justin Johnson was ranked sixth among active NCAA players for
career rebounds and fifth in career double-doubles. Johnson is the only active
player in the nation with at least 1,600 career points and 1,000 rebounds. He ranks
15th in the country this year with 348 total rebounds.
• Justin Johnson is ranked 10th on WKU’s all-time scoring list with 1,691 career
points. He needs 42 points to pass Anthony Winchester to move into ninth.
• Justin Johnson ranks fifth on WKU’s all-time rebounding list with 1,046 career
boards. Johnson is one of four Hilltoppers in program history ranked in the top 10
in scoring and the top five in rebounding.
• Justin Johnson is the fifth player in WKU history with 1,000 career points and
1,000 rebounds, joining Tom Marshall, Art Spoelstra, Ralph Crosthwaite and Jim
McDaniels, the last to accomplish the feat in 1971.
• Taveion Hollingsworth has scored more points and played more minutes than any
freshman in Hilltopper history. He recently passed WKU great Courtney Lee for the
• Darius Thompson needs to play just nine minutes to rank first on WKU’s list for
most minutes played in a single season. Thompson ranks eighth in the country in
total minutes played this season.
NIT EXPERIMENTAL RULES
The 2018 NIT will feature four rules modifications:
• The three-point line will be extended by approximately 1 foot 8 inches to the
same distance used by FIBA for international competition (22 feet 1.75 inches).
• The free throw lane will be widened from 12 feet to 16 feet, consistent with the
width used by the NBA.
• The games will be divided into four 10-minute quarters as opposed to two
20-minute halves. Teams will shoot two free throws beginning with the fifth foul of
• The shot clock will reset to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound instead of the
full 30 seconds.
LAST MEETING WITH UTAH:
MED CENTER HEALTH
The 2017-18 WKU Basketball season is presented by Med Center Health. With The
Medical Center at its core, Med Center Health has served Southcentral Kentucky for
more than 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.