South Alabama (12-9) at Western Kentucky (7-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 4th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: E.A. Diddle Arena (7,326) -- Bowling Green, Kentucky. Television: FCS, WKYU-PBS. Home Record: USA 7-5, WKU 4-7. Away Record: USA 4-4, WKU 3-5. Neutral Record: USA 1-0, WKU 0-3. Conference Record: USA 4-6, WKU 3-6. Series Record: South Alabama leads, 31-28.
GAME NOTES: The South Alabama Jaguars take their winning streak on the road, as they pay a visit to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at E.A. Diddle Arena in a Sun Belt Conference matchup.
South Alabama captured its second consecutive win on Thursday, downing Florida Atlantic at home by way of a 65-56 final. The Jaguars ended the contest on a 16-2 run to win going away after FAU had led for much of the period, and by 10 at one point. USA overcame a poor 39.2 percent shooting effort by sinking 20- of-25 at the foul line. Freshman Mychal Ammons led the way with a career-best 18 points while adding nine rebounds and four blocks. Freddie Goldstein kicked in 14 points and Antione Lundy scored 10 and snagged eight boards as the Jags improved to 4-6 in Sun Belt action.
Western Kentucky gutted out a tough road win at FIU its last time out, picking up a 61-51 victory to earn a second win in three tries. The Hilltoppers had to overcome a terrible night shooting the ball, connecting on just 27.6 percent of their field goals, instead relying on defense. The visitors forced 20 turnovers, getting 17 points on the other end, while producing a 46-41 rebounding edge. Jamal Crook totaled 12 points, seven rebounds and as many assists for the Hilltoppers, who moved to 3-6 in conference play.
These two teams split the season series last year with each logging a road win. The last meeting saw South Alabama stop the Hilltoppers' six-game win streak in the series with an 80-76 triumph on February 3. The Jaguars lead the all-time series, 31-28.
The Jaguars generally struggle at the offensive end, averaging only 64.3 points per game on 41.0 percent shooting. However, USA does have the league's top scorer and rebounder on its roster in sophomore Augustine Rubit. Rubit checks in at 14.4 ppg while posting 9.0 rebounds per contest, but he can't do it all on his own. Goldstein serves as the squad's second-leading scorer at 10.6 ppg and top three-point shooter with 46 treys on 34.8 percent shooting. Lundy and Ammons do their best to support the offense by chipping in 8.7 and 8.0 ppg, respectively. The duo also helps out on the glass, with Lundy pulling down 6.6 rpg and Ammons 5.8 rpg. As a result, the Jaguars are producing the Sun Belt's best rebounding margin at plus-8.0 with 40.3 caroms per contest. The defense keeps opponents to 65.2 ppg on 40.4 percent shooting.
The Hilltoppers don't exactly set the world on fire offensively either, putting up a mere 62.6 ppg on a conference-worst 37.9 percent shooting effort. The defense does little to help WKU's cause, surrendering 68.1 ppg on 43.6 percent accuracy. Freshman Derrick Gordon is the team's top scorer at 12.0 ppg while reserve George Fant is the next best option at 8.8 ppg. Gordon also leads the club in rebounding at 6.2 per game, while Fant grabs 6.0 boards. Crook adds 8.5 ppg and T.J. Price 8.4 ppg. Western Kentucky draws dead even with opponents on the glass, averaging 36.0 rebounds per game.
WKU is still trying to figure out its own identity going forward, with the rest of the season seemingly a work in progress. The more seasoned and balanced Jaguars should have little trouble taking home a win from Bowling Green tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Alabama 66, Western Kentucky 60
02/04 10:54:43 ET