Hilltoppers hit the road again for clashes with UAB, MTSU

Mens and Womens Conference USA standings. 

Billy Rutledge

With only six games left in the regular season, every time the Hilltoppers take the floor will be an important matchup, especially for a 16-8, 9-3 WKU team fighting for postseason positioning. 

Sitting in third in the Conference USA standings with four of their final six games on the road, the Hilltoppers have a tough task ahead of them, starting this weekend at UAB and Middle Tennessee. 

The second game of a three-game road swing, WKU travels to Birmingham, Alabama Thursday to take on UAB. After starting the season 2-6, the Blazers have rallied to a 13-13 record on the season and a winning record of 10-4 at home. Currently UAB sits one game behind WKU in the standings at 9-4 in conference play.

“(They are) very good. They will pound you inside,” Head Coach Ray Harper said. “Their two big kids are really good. Lee is going to be one, truly, great big guys in this league … They’re young, but they have really grown up over the course of the season.”

Both teams enter the game riding a two-game losing streak, with the Blazers most recently losing to the Rice Owls, who defeated the Hilltoppers 72-68, on Feb. 7. 

The battle to watch will be inside, where senior forward George Fant and sophomore forward Ben Lawson will have to compete against a competitive front court.

“They have the best front court, from what we’ve heard,” sophomore forward Ben Lawson said. “Every big can shoot it — every big can do his own stuff. They have a shot blocker who’s just above me right now. So, it’s my goal to catch up with him. I get to see him for the first time as well. So, I’m looking forward to it.”

After the trip to Birmingham, the Hilltoppers will travel to Murfreesboro, Tennessee to face the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee. The Raiders sit in eighth place in C-USA, but boast a 10-3 record at home. That game will be played Sunday, Feb. 22.