Hilltoppers notch 73-62 win over Southern Miss, improve to 8-1 in C-USA

Senior guard T.J. Price (52) goes up for a layup during WKU’s game against Belmont on Saturday. Price scored 15 points and pulled down nine rebounds in WKU’s 64-63 loss to the Bruins. Brandon Carter/HERALD

Jonah Phillips

Senior T.J. Price tied a career-high 30 points on 8-for-15 shooting to lead WKU to a 73-62 win over Southern Miss on Saturday night.

The Hilltoppers (15-6, 8-1) have now won 10 of their last 11 games, and have reached the 15-win mark before March for the first time since the 2007-08 season.  

“They did a great job offensively of grinding it out,” Head Coach Ray Harper said on IMG Hilltopper Sports Radio Network. “And there were times when we had to guard for nearly the entire shot clock, but I thought we were disciplined.  Especially in the second half, we did a good job of hanging in there and finishing plays.”

For his 30 points on the night, Price shot 8-for-15 from the field and 11-for-13 from the free throw line.

Senior Trency Jackson notched 14 points, all in the second half and fellow senior George Fant had 12 points and nine rebounds.  Sophomore forward Ben Lawson had a big impact in the paint defensively for the Hilltoppers.

“I thought Ben was really good today, he really got in there and altered some shots around the basket,” Harper said. “I thought Trency, once he got going in the second half—he hit a three, and all the sudden he got a steal—I think the light really clicked on for him.”

WKU held a 34-28 lead at halftime, but took the lead with 11:56 remaining in the first half  at 11-9 and never let it go.

The Hilltoppers went on to score seven of the first eight points after halftime, leaving the score at 41-29 with just over 16 minutes to play. Both teams shot comparably from the field but WKU went 24 for 32 at the free throw line while Southern Miss (6-14, 1-8) was 15 for 22.

WKU returns home on Thursday, February 5th at 7 to play North Texas and will face Rice Saturday, February 7th at 7.