Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs – NIT March 25

NIT Quarterfinal

Western Kentucky (21-7, 11-3) vs. Louisiana Tech (22-7, 12-4)

  • Time: 7PM PST | 9PM CST | 10PM EST
  • Location: Comerica Center, Frisco, TX
  • TV: ESPN2

Opening Tip

It’s the rubber match between CUSA foes Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech as the two teams split a pair of games in Bowling Green, Ky. in early January.

Western Kentucky took a 66-58 win on Jan. 8 behind 24 points and 17 rebounds from Charles Bassey. The Hilltoppers shot only 35.7 percent from the field but made 24-of-31 free throws to pick up the ‘W’. Isaiah Crawford and Kalob Ledoux split game-high honors for Louisiana Tech with 14 points.

The following day, the Dunkin’ Dogs led for nearly the entire outing and posted a 63-58 win. This time, Amonie Archibald and Andrew Gordon netted 14 and 13 points apiece while La. Tech controlled the paint at a 40-22 margin. Taveion Hollingsworth led WKU with 16 points while Bassey had 14 points and 13 rebounds.

The Bulldogs have won 11 out of 13 games as one of those losses was to eventual CUSA champion North Texas in the semifinals of the CUSA Tournament. It’s the ‘Dogs second trip in Louisiana Tech history to the NIT where they nabbed a team-high 15 steals in that win over an Ole Miss team that played without point guard Devontae Shuler.

Western Kentucky leads the all-time series, 20-17, and Coach Rick Stansbury is 7-3 vs. the Bulldogs.

Vs. The Spread

Louisiana Tech:

  • The Bulldogs are 7-2 ATS over their last 9 games
  • The UNDER has been the play in 13 of LT’s last 20 games
  • The Dunkin’ Dogs are 4-2 ATS in their last 6 games vs. WKU

Western Kentucky:

  • The UNDER has been the call in 4 of WKU’s last 5 games
  • The total has also gone UNDER in 5 of the last 6 between the Bulldogs and Hilltoppers
  • The total has also gone UNDER in 5 of WKU’s last 7 vs. a CUSA West opponent

Last Time Out

CUSA Freshman of the Year Kenny Lofton, Jr., scored a season-high 22 points and the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs battled from 10 points down at halftime to complete the win. Lofton scored 11 points in a decisive 22-4 Bulldogs’ run over the first 10:13 of the second half.

Taveion Hollingsworth scored 21 points and hit a pair of free throws with 3.3 seconds remaining as Western Kentucky shaded Saint Mary’s, 69-67. CUSA Player of the Year Charles Bassey scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as he found 10 of those points in the final eight minutes.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Louisiana Tech +1 (-112) -107 O 136.5 (-110)
Western Kentucky -1 (-108) -113 U 136.5 (-110)

Advantage, Louisiana Tech

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs LogoEric Konkol’s squad is 28th in adjusted defensive efficiency as the Bulldogs defend at a high clip in allowing only 64.4 points per game while opponents are at 39.9 percent on the year. The Hilltoppers have to take care of the basketball against this opportunistic defense as Western Kentucky turns it over 14.5 times per game. The Bulldogs have averaged 16.8 points per game off of turnovers in their last five outings.

Key Bulldogs Stat:

Getting the ball deep into the paint has been one of the fortés of this Louisiana Tech basketball team. The Bulldogs have outscored opponents inside in 21 of 29 games and are 19-2 in those games. Western Kentucky is a solid defensive team inside with Bassey as the ‘Toppers average 4.5 blocks per game and enjoy a (+6.6) rebound margin.

X-Factor:

The matchup with Bassey is tough for anyone and Louisiana Tech must be able to challenge WKU on the boards. Lofton (7.3 rpg) and JaColby Pemberton (5.9 rpg) are LT’s top two rebounders as the ‘Dogs are at a (+3.8) advantage on the glass.

Advantage, Western Kentucky

Western Kentucky HilltoppersCharles Bassey (17.7 ppg, 11.4 rpg) is the major issue for anyone who plays Western Kentucky, but Taveion Hollingsworth (13.9 ppg) and Josh Anderson are two solid players who can affect games as well. Hollingsworth struggled over the three games prior to Saint Mary’s as he came back with a 21-point effort and Anderson is a lock-down defender with his length as he populated 48 steals to lead the team.

Key Hilltoppers Stat:

Charles Bassey’s dominance:

  • 68 dunks – 12th/NCAA

  • 3.1 blocks per game – 4th/NCAA

  • 11.4 rpg. – 6th/NCAA

  • 59.7%-FG – 12th/NCAA

X-Factor:

Freshman Dayvion McKnight, last season’s Mr. Basketball in Kentucky, has had a productive season as he is 89th in the nation in assist rate, per kenpom analytics. McKnight has passed out 110 assists and has gotten to the line regularly where he has made 81.7 percent of his threes.

Winner: Western Kentucky (-1) 67, LA Tech 63

The Bets
Western Kentucky -1
-108
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
-113
UNDER 136.5
-110
Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.