Sunday, December 09, 2012

WKU 77, IUPUI 57

WKU 117.0
IUPUI 86.9

To date, this was probably the best 40-minute effort of the season for WKU (definitely true offensively). Everything looks better when the 3’s go down and what you saw is what I’ve felt all season about the Hilltoppers. When the jumpers go, they are going to be very, very tough because WKU defends for 40 minutes. Topper head coach Ray Harper has been very patient with his young team's struggles to make threes, finish easy shots, poor free throw shooting, and stretches of not valuing the ball. However, he simply does not tolerate messing around on defense. If a player fails to rotate or close out on a shooter a couple of times, the pine awaits.

The WKU defense was good again last night.

1. Defensive FG%: 36.4%, which is excellent. IUPUI 's Jordan Shanklin put on a good show from deep in his homecoming game (he played at Warren Central HS in Bowling Green, KY). Outside of that IUPUI struggled mightily to make shots. WKU shot 55.%.

2. Rebounding. IUPUI got back 31.4% of their misses, but WKU corralled 39.1%. This has been a theme all season.

3. Turnovers. WKU had a -1 margin, committing 15 (22.7%) to the Jags 14 (21.2%). This was about the only dark blotch on the stat sheet for WKU.

Offensively, the Toppers have struggled mightily from deep at times, but found the range last night. (8-21 from 3, 38.1%;). However, if WKU is on your schedule, what you are truly beginning to fret about is a different and alarming trend over the last few games. Three games back gainst Troy, WKU shot 60% on 2-point shots. Then, on Wednesday against SIU, it was 56%. Last night against IUPUI, it was an absolutely scorching 21-31 (67.8%). That is Denver-at-home kind of stuff. If this WKU team converts 50% or more of its 2’s and can manage 33% from deep, WKU opponents have problems because the defense is stiff.

In other Belt news, Middle Tennessee took care of Ole Miss at home. This will largely be viewed as an upset in Hoopdom, but it wasn't. Based on efficiency ratings, MT was favored by one last night. Good win, though, and the Blue Raiders have to be considered the Sun Belt favorite at this stage.

Arkansas State and North Texas also picked up wins last night as the Belt went 4-3 as a league.