Friday, December 28, 2012

WKU 76, FIU 63

WKU 124.6
FIU 103.3

This is the first of five recaps in the Father/Son Hoops Extravaganza (FSHE). My son turned six years old yesterday, and we will be traveling to five games in just over 48 hours this weekend. Later today, we will be in Chattanooga for the Dr. Pepper Classic which includes Austin Peay/Utah Valley and High Point/Chattanooga.

We opened the FSHE with a "home" game in Diddle, as WKU hosted FIU. This was abnormal for a WKU game in that it would have to considered an "offensive" game. Frankly, WKU has not been productive enough on offense to win "offensive" games often. But, tonight was different on a number of levels.

The help came from excellent deep shooting (9-22, 41%). That’s the best shooting from deep all year for the Toppers who came in shooting a paltry 29.5% from Three. Sophomore G Kevin Kaspar and junior PG Brandon Harris combined for 7-12 from long range. That shooting also opened up some passing lanes for WKU's top offensive option, and they did a great job finding PF George Fant inside. Fant rolled up  24 points on 9-12 shooting and a perfect 6-6 free throws.

But, FIU stayed in contact for 3/4s of this game mainly through Malik Smith in the first half. Smith poured in four first half triples and many of those came bounding off screens and letting it fly. It was quite an exhibition and kept the game tied at 33 and the half. FIU also stayed close by winning the rebounding battle, gathering up 37% of their misses, while WKU managed just 28.5%. It would remain close until about 10 minutes remaining, when the WKU defense stiffened and held the Panthers to just 13 points in the last 10 minutes while the Toppers put in 25.

WKU got the expected win, but first year coach Richard Pitino (yes, Rick's son) has FIU looking much better than in past years. Their press is pretty effective, and they have some shooters. They have been in the Sun Belt East basement for years, but I'll be surprised if they finish there this season.