Western Kentucky wraps up its regular season this week in the Sunshine State, playing at Florida Atlantic on Thursday, February 25 at 7pm ET on FCS Atlantic before facing FIU in Miami on Saturday night. This game will go a long way in determining seeding for the upcoming Sun Belt conference tournament to be held March 6-9.
Western Kentucky (17-12, 10-6 Sun Belt) is currently riding a four game win streak thanks in part to the strong play of team leading scorer AJ Slaughter, who won his third Sun Belt Conference Basketball Player of the Week award this season on Monday. The Sun Belt's Preseason Player of the Year averaged a league-best 26.0 points and 5.0 assists last week in leading the Hilltoppers to a pair of conference wins over South Alabama and Arkansas State. He is currently second in the Sun Belt in scoring at 17.8 ppg
The Hilltoppers feature four players who average double digit points per game; after Slaughter, Steffphon Pettigrew averages 14.9 ppg, Sergio Kerusch averages 14.1 ppg and Jeremy Evens average 10.1 ppg. Evans shoots a conference best 64% field goal percentage and leads the team in blocked shots with 1.7 per game (third best in the Sun Belt). WKU is 3-8 on the road but has won six of their last eight games.
Florida Atlantic (14-13, 10-6 Sun Belt) has already set numerous school records so far this season including: most three-pointers by a freshman, broken by the Owls leading scorer Greg Gantt, most assists in a season, broken by freshman Raymond Taylor, who is tenth in the nation with 6 assists per game, best in the conference as well. The school record for career blocked shots was broken by Brett Royster, who is 13th in the nation with 2.9 blocked shots per game, which is best in the conference.
FAU is 20th in the nation in 3-point FG percentage, shooting 38.9% beyond the arc, which is second best in the Sun Belt. The Owls also are second in 3-point FG's made per game with 7.4 and lead the conference with a +2.3 turnover margin. The Owls are led by a pair of freshman's in Greg Gantt, averaging 15.6 ppg and a league-best 2.8 3-pointers made per game, and Raymond Taylor, averaging 14.4 ppg.
The last time these teams faced off, Western Kentucky won 79-72 at home over Florida Atlantic on Jan. 14. The Hilltoppers lead the all-time series 7-1 but the FAU Owls are 9-2 at home this season. Both teams are tied for second and just a game back in the Sun Belt conference standings.
Don't forget to catch all the action Thursday night at 7pm ET on FCS Atlantic (channel 617 on DirecTV).