Tops Train Rolls Over UAB For 7th Straight Win

01/19/2018 12:56 AM

WKU men’s basketball came into Thursday’s night’s contest against UAB riding six straight wins and sitting atop Conference USA alongside bitter rival, Middle Tennessee. However, UAB came with a four game winning streak of its own and looking for a chance to send WKU tumbling from its perch.

From the outset, WKU played spotty basketball, as the Tops quickly ran up a 10 point lead on the Blazers before giving it all back. Freshman Josh Anderson looked good early in his home debut for the Tops but WKU couldn’t pull away, going into halftime nursing a 36 to 31 lead.

“Josh was huge for us offensively and defensively,” noted WKU coach Rick Stansbury.

WKU forward, Dwight Coleby echoed his coach’s sentiments.

“He was huge! I already told him during the game and after the game,” Coleby said with a big smile.

In the second half, the Tops couldn’t get it together. Between missed free throws and times of looking completely lost on defense, WKU fell behind the surging Blazers early and stayed in the rear view most of the period. UAB forward Chris Cooley poured 17 points in and guard Zack Bryant pitched in 16 as WKU sputtered.

“I never thought we were at our best really,” admitted Stansbury postgame. However, Stansbury said his team showed poise in the face of a deficit that grew to eight at one point.

“If you take away that first five minutes, we probably shot 56%,” he said of the team’s second half shooting.

But senior forward Justin Johnson, who finished the night with 18 points, came to the rescue with an on time three pointer to get the Tops momentum back. Dwight Coleby, had 18 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks. Coleby’s defense helped key the comeback.

The Toppers took the lead for good after freshman guard, Jake Ohmer, knocked down four out of five free throws after being fouled while taking a three, coupled with UAB’s coach, Robert Ehsan, receiving a technical foul after the play. The Tops pulled away to win 77-69 and move to 14-5 (6-0, Conference USA).

What made Thursday night’s win even better for the Tops was the fact their arch nemesis, Middle Tennessee, with whom the Tops shared first place in the conference, fell to Marshall earlier in the evening.

The Tops now own sole possession of the first place in the conference and are hoping to extend that lead by taking down their arch rival, MTSU, when the two clash Saturday night at Diddle Arena. The game is projected to be a sellout, the first sellout for the Toppers in almost four years. Stansbury’s team knows what it is about to go up against.

“I don’t have to tell our players about Middle Tennessee… why is there going to be a sellout Saturday night, because it’s Middle.”


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