The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers return to the road on Thursday, February 4 when they travel to Monroe, La. to take on the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks in a Sun Belt Conference clash at 8pm ET on FCS Pacific. ULM is 7-4 at Fant-Ewing Coliseum and will be seeking its first win against the Hilltoppers in five attemps.
Louisiana-Monroe (9-14, 4-8 Sun Belt) looks to bounce back from their current two game losing streak, in which they suffered a heartbreaker, losing to conference rival Louisiana-Lafayette 72-67 on Jan. 30. The Warhawks, second in the Sun Belt in steals per game (7.8) and fourth in free-throw percentage (.724), are led by guards Dynile Forbes and Tony Hooper.
Forbes is averaging a team best 11.7 ppg, while Hooper averages 11.4 ppg to go along with 1.9 steals per game, second best in the conference. 5-foot-11 Senior Hooper recorded the 202nd steal of his career against ULL, tying him with Brian Spencer (1985-88) for the ULM career steals record. Big man Rudy Turner anchors the frontcourt with a .584 FG percentage, fourth best in the conference while also averaging 1.2 blocks per game, fifth best in the conference.
Two-time defending Sun Belt champs Western Kentucky (12-10, 5-5 Sun Belt) look to tackle their road woes, in which they are 1-7. The team is fifth in the conference in both scoring offense (68.7 ppg) and scoring defense, limiting opponents to 67.9 ppg. WKU is led by SBC preseason player of the year AJ Slaughter, who averages a conference best 16.9 ppg, and averages team bests in assists (4 apg) and steals (1.8 steals per game, fourth best in the Sun Belt).
Slaughter scored 18 points against New Orleans to give him 1,358 for his career, moving him past Craig McCormick (1979-82) for 14th on the WKU all-time scoring list. This win over New Orleans on Jan. 30, ended the five game losing streak the Hilltoppers had starting on Jan. 18 when they lost to Middle Tennessee.
Steffphon Pettigrew, averaging 15 points per game (ninth best in the Sun Belt), also leads WKU along with Jeremy Evans, averaging team bests in rebounds per game (7.3, fifth best in the conference), field goal percentage (.608, best in the conference), and blocks per game (1.5, fourth best in the conference).
The last time these teams faced off, WKU beat ULM 64-55 at Fant-Ewing Coliseum on Feb. 5 in which AJ Slaughter scored 20 points in leading the Hilltoppers to victory.