WKU dominates Campbellsville thanks to disruptive defense

Jeremy Chisenhall

WKU basketball overcame a lack of depth to win their second straight exhibition with just seven active players, beating Campbellsville 92-51.
 
WKU wreaked havoc on the defensive end, forcing 23 turnovers and scoring 37 points off turnovers. Freshman guard Taveion Hollingsworth was the leader in forcing turnovers as he recorded seven steals. The team recorded 15 steals, six more than they had in any single game last season. 
 
“I’m starting to like defense more and more now,” Hollingsworth said. “What motivates me is, [head coach Rick Stansbury] said ‘if you aren’t playing defense then you aren’t playing,’ so I took it in and started playing defense.”
 
Stansbury praised the team for having “active” hands, specifically Hollingsworth. 
 
WKU controlled the first half, leading by double-digits for much of the half. The Hilltoppers were extremely disruptive, forcing 13 turnovers and scoring 22 points off those turnovers. Hollingsworth led the Hilltoppers in forcing turnovers, recording four steals. He also led the team in points in the first half with 13. He would finish with 20 points on 9-14 shooting from the field and seven steals. He took a heavy workload again, playing 35 minutes after playing 39 minutes in the Samford exhibition. 
 
“He never gets tired. I take him out just to take him out,” Stansbury said of Hollingsworth. “He’s got great endurance.”
 
WKU showed its athleticism as freshman forward Marek Nelson had three alley-oop dunks in the first 20 minutes. Those dunks would help to propel Nelson to 10 points for the game.
 
“The last one I was pretty winded,” Nelson said of his last alley-oop. “I had the two before, and I didn’t know if I was going to get the last one off one leg. But Darius (Thompson), he did a good job of putting it where I can go get it. I trust him and he trusts me. He can put it where he needs to and I’m going to go finish it.”
 
Thompson, a senior guard, was directing the offense well, as he had five assists at half. He’d finish with 12 points and seven assists. The Hilltoppers used a 16-0 run at the end of the half to storm out to a 48-24 lead at halftime. 
 
The domination continued in the second half, as WKU outscored Campbellsville 44-27 in the last 20 minutes. Senior forward Justin Johnson emerged in the second half with 12 points and nine rebounds. He’d total 16 points and 16 rebounds for the game. WKU also got a significant second half contribution from Jake Ohmer, who scored 13 points, and finished with 18 points for the game. 
 
Stansbury was positive about the team’s ability to continue playing well with a big lead.
 
“When you’ve got a big lead, can you come back out and not play to that lead. Take your foot, and put it on somebody’s throat and step on it,” Stansbury said. “I thought for the most part we did that some.”
 
This was a bit of a measuring stick game for WKU, as they beat Campbellsville just 87-79 a year ago. 
 
WKU has one more exhibition on Tuesday against Cumberland University. Tipoff will be at 7 p.m. in Diddle Arena. After that the Hilltoppers will begin their regular season schedule. 
 
Reporter Jeremy Chisenhall can be reached at 859-760-0198 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @JSChisenhall.