Hilltoppers face tough semifinal test in Monarchs

WKU’s forward Nigel Snipes (21) looks to pass around UAB’s guard Dirk Williams (11) and forward Chris Cokley (3) during the quarterfinals of the C-USA tournament on Thursday at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Ala. Mike Clark/HERALD

Matthew Stewart

The WKU men’s basketball team (18-15) will be playing in the semifinals of the Conference USA tournament on Friday. The Toppers will be taking on a familiar opponent in Old Dominion (21-12).

WKU has taken to the court against the Monarchs twice already this season, falling in both contests.

ODU senior guard Trey Freeman has dropped 26 and 28 points in the two games played against WKU. Head Coach Ray Harper and company will be challenged to stop one of the top scorers in C-USA.

Freeman and the Monarchs defeated Louisiana Tech in the quarterfinals of the tournament on Thursday. Freeman scored 25 points in ODU’s 68-52 victory.

The WKU players know that their tournament journey doesn’t stop with their win over the top seeded Blazers of University of Alabama, Birmingham. The Monarchs will present a tough test to the Tops.

“I’m here to get a ring, and that’s what I want,” sophomore forward Justin Johnson said.

Johnson will look to continue his tournament success in the matchup against ODU. Following his double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds against North Texas on Wednesday, Johnson notched another double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds against UAB. 

The game is set to tip off at 3 p.m. Thursday and will be televised on CBS Sports Network.