Western Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky took a seven-year break from their men’s basketball series before last season’s game in Bowling Green.
When the Hilltoppers took a 21-2 lead, resuming a rivalry that dates back to 1914 did not seem such a terrific idea. That all changed when the Colonels clawed back to take the lead with 19 seconds remaining. And when Justin Johnson heaved in a three-pointer to win the game at the buzzer for WKU, 86-84, the matchup was suddenly as hot as ever.
Wednesday night, the teams collide for the 157th time when the Hilltoppers travel to McBrayer Arena in Richmond for the first time since 2007. Western Kentucky leads the series 113-43 and has won 13 straight over EKU dating to 1987.
“We know it will be a Super Bowl game for them, big game for them,” Hilltoppers first-year coach Rick Stansbury said. “Nothing’s easy on the road. Eastern’s got a really good team. They led Auburn at Auburn for the first 30 minutes of the game. They had Texas Tech down at Texas Tech.”
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EKU is off to a 3-4 start, having defeated IUPUI, Idaho State and Berea and lost to UNC-Wilmington, Auburn, Texas Tech and Georgia State.
Sophomore forward Nick Mayo was voted the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week on Monday. He averaged 20.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game last week.
WKU (3-3) has beaten Alabama State, Jacksonville State and North Carolina A&T and lost to Belmont, Washington and UNLV.
Que Johnson leads the Hilltoppers in scoring at 15 points per game. Justin Johnson averages nearly a double-double with 11.7 points and 9.5 boards.
The men’s teams tip off at 8 p.m., following the women’s game between Eastern (2-3) and Western (3-3) at 5:30.
Morehead without Woods for NKU
Morehead State (2-3) hosts Northern Kentucky (3-3) on Wednesday night in the Eagles’ first home game since the school suspended head coach Sean Woods last week.
Morehead lost its first game under acting head coach Preston Spradlin when the Eagles were defeated 76-63 at Pittsburgh on Friday.
MSU is investigating Woods for “complaints received” and the head coach is suspended with pay while the school looks into the matter. The school said Spradlin will coach the Eagles against NKU on Wednesday.
Game time is 7 p.m.
Transy scores 109 in defeat
Transylvania fell to 1-2 on Monday night in a racehorse game at Greenville College of Illinois. Greenville held off Transy 125-109.
The Pioneers hung in the game in the first half by shooting 69 percent from the field, and trailed Greenville (5-1) 68-66 at the break. But the Panthers’ fast-paced, three-point shooting style took its toll in the second half.
The teams combined to take 171 shots and 63 three-pointers. Transylvania committed 25 turnovers.
Cooper Theobald led the Pioneers with 26 points. Kyle Gullett (17), Gabe Schmitt (17) and Alex Jones (16) also finished in double figures.