It was not pretty against Milwaukee. The Panthers tried to run with the Tops, found themselves in an early 10-point hole, then started to focus on slowing things down. It worked, as Milwaukee built a seven point lead in the second half. The Topper freshmen were cow-eyed and super transfer Cliff Dixon took an elbow to the nose that opened the faucet and he did not return. Things looked bleak. But, like many great non-Power teams of yore that have big seasons, WKU is loaded with experienced guys who have been through the fray and with a clear go-to guy. That said, it took a herculean effort from Sun Belt preseason POY A.J. Slaughter (30 pts, 5-10 from 3), a monster 2nd half from JR Steffphon Pettigrew (11 pts in the 2nd frame), and some solid minutes from SR NJIT transfer Nemanja Milosovic (6 rebs) to claw out a 69-65 win over a game Panther club.
This club has essentially six guys it figures to play a lot and they are all JR's and SR's. The depth hangs on Milosovic (a SR), and a bunch of FR. Building that bench will take time.
LSU took care of Indiana State, so the Tops and Tigers will tangle tonight in Baton Rouge. The winner gets a trip to Madison Square Garden. What must happen immediately to topple LSU on their home court is better rebounding and ball control. WKU and LSU tip at 7 pm CT.
--Louisville vs Arkansas. Neutral court between two "name" programs.
--Temple at Georgetown. More NCAA hopefuls.
--Iowa State at Drake. In-state rivalry alert!
--Memphis vs Kansas. Jayhawks are one of handful of teams with realistic national title hopes.
--Clemson at Liberty. AT Liberty? Really? OK...keep an eye on this one.
--Gonzaga at Michigan State. Sparty is another title contender. Bulldogs lost a ton from last season.
--New Mexico at New Mexico State. In-state rivarly alert!
--St. John's at St. Bonaventure. Who is more saintly?
--Duquesne at Iowa. If the Big 6 team wins this game, it's an upset in my mind.
--WKU at LSU. See above. WKU believes it can build an At-Large resume this season.