WKU basketball’s Hilltopper Hysteria previews 2019-20 Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers

Josh Anderson 4) and Isaiah Cozart (50) score on a rebound during a scrimmage match against their own team in the Hill Topper Hysteria event in the Diddle arena on Oct. 16 2019.

About 3,000 fans got their first look at the 2019-20 Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers on Thursday night, as the WKU men’s and women’s basketball programs participated in Hilltopper Hysteria.

The annual tip-off event featured the usual player introductions, autographs and scrimmages on John Oldham Court, but it also introduced a new format for the men’s team’s scrimmage.

The men’s basketball team typically hosted an extended scrimmage during Homecoming weekend following Hilltopper Hysteria, but head coach Rick Stansbury decided to scrap the Red vs. White game and integrate a full open scrimmage into Hilltopper Hysteria instead.

The new-look men’s scrimmage featured two 12-minute halves, along with timeouts similar to a true game. Each half began with a 40-40 score, and teams changed between periods.

{{tncms-inline account=”WKU Herald Sports” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The WKU men’s basketball team employed a unique format for its Hilltopper Hysteria scrimmage. The game featured two 12-minute halves, shifting teams between periods and a 40-40 score at the start of each frame. <a href="https://t.co/ZEtJAP92uY">pic.twitter.com/ZEtJAP92uY</a></p>— WKU Herald Sports (@wkuheraldsports) <a href="https://twitter.com/wkuheraldsports/status/1184994357025206272?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 18, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/wkuheraldsports/status/1184994357025206272″ type=”twitter”}}

Sophomore center Charles Bassey put up 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 24 minutes, while graduate transfer Camron Justice went 5 for 7 on 3-pointers and posted 17 total points.

Redshirt senior wing Jared Savage shot 6-of-7 from the floor and tallied 16 points. Redshirt junior forward Carson Williams poured in 16 points to go along with six rebounds.

“Well, first thing, we wanted it to be fun and entertaining,” Stansbury said. “But most importantly, we wanted to gain something ourselves from it. You know, we didn’t want to do just some of these events where everybody gets out of the way and lets you dunk, no defense. So, we tried to stay in front of each other a little bit. So, we gained some things from it. It was good.”

{{tncms-inline account=”WKU Herald Sports” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The 2019-20 Hilltoppers are introduced at Hilltopper Hysteria: <a href="https://t.co/TbIuZye2pV">https://t.co/TbIuZye2pV</a></p>— WKU Herald Sports (@wkuheraldsports) <a href="https://twitter.com/wkuheraldsports/status/1184977222924292096?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 17, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/wkuheraldsports/status/1184977222924292096″ type=”twitter”}}

Several in-state recruits were reportedly in attendance for Hilltopper Hysteria, according to a tweet from Kentucky Prep Report. Marshall County’s Zion Harmon, Bowling Green’s Isaiah Mason and Fern Creek’s Jaden Rogers were among the 2021 recruits in the crowd, along with Christian Spalding and James Jewell, a pair of 2022 prospects from Louisville Eastern.

Bardstown’s JJ Traynor, rated a four-star prospect by 247 Sports and Rivals, took an unofficial visit to WKU for Hilltopper Hysteria, according to a tweet from Jake Weingarten.

The women’s basketball team completed a 12-minute Red vs. Black scrimmage in front of the Diddle Arena faithful, and the Black team defeated the Red team for a 17-12 win.

{{tncms-inline account=”WKU Herald Sports” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The Lady Toppers split into two squads for their Red vs. Black scrimmage. Head coach Greg Collins told the fans in attendance to pick a team and cheer for them. Losers will be rewarded in the morning, Collins said. <a href="https://t.co/HCQ6u8P9BF">pic.twitter.com/HCQ6u8P9BF</a></p>— WKU Herald Sports (@wkuheraldsports) <a href="https://twitter.com/wkuheraldsports/status/1184976499301994496?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 17, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/wkuheraldsports/status/1184976499301994496″ type=”twitter”}}

Redshirt senior Dee Givens shot 3-of-3 from beyond the arc for nine points, while junior Raneem Elgedawy tallied six points and snatched a rebound for the Red team.

WKU newcomer Fatou Pouye totalled four points, while senior Whitney Creech collected four assists and two rebounds during the abbreviated scrimmage.

Head coach Greg Collins said his veteran squad gained even more valuable experience during this year’s preseason festivities.

“I think the positives are that the team chemistry is really good, really strong,” Collins said. They enjoy being together, playing together, working hard together and you can see the effort on the floor. I think the takeaways, the things we need to clean up were just some of the executions type stuff. We need to take better care of the ball, a little stronger passes, do better at setting screens, finishing plays, but the effort is there and that will come back around.”

{{tncms-inline account=”WKU Herald Sports” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Members of the 2019-20 Lady Toppers and head coach Greg Collins are introduced at Hilltopper Hysteria: <a href="https://t.co/1C5FpkAU4N">pic.twitter.com/1C5FpkAU4N</a></p>— WKU Herald Sports (@wkuheraldsports) <a href="https://twitter.com/wkuheraldsports/status/1184971779258740736?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 17, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/wkuheraldsports/status/1184971779258740736″ type=”twitter”}}

The Hilltoppers are set to start their season with an exhibition against Kentucky State on Nov. 2, and the Lady Toppers will start with an exhibition against Kentucky Wesleyan on Oct. 31.

The men’s team will begin its regular season schedule against Tennessee Tech in Diddle Arena on Nov. 5, while the women’s team will begin its regular season on the road at Louisville on Nov. 5.

Sports Editor Drake Kizer can be reached at [email protected] Follow Drake on Twitter at @drakekizer_.

Reporter Elliott Wells can be reached at [email protected] Follow Elliott on Twitter at @ewells5.