Toppers appreciate extra rest before Saturday’s tournament opener

From left, WKU’s George Fant, Chris Harrison-Docks, Trency Jackson, and T.J. Price congratulate each other after coming from behind to beat Murray State 71-64 at E.A. Diddle Arena on Saturday, December 21, 2013.

Tyler Lashbrook

WKU has battled some injury issues in the last stretch of the regular season, but the Toppers have used their off time in order to regain some health.

Junior guard T.J. Price participated in his first full practice on Tuesday and Fant “looked good” on Wednesday, according to coach Ray Harper.

“I feel pretty good,” Fant said. “I’m ready to go.”

WKU’s two leading scorers did not play against Georgia State on March 8 in order to regain full health. Price had been battling a shoulder injury and Fant was dealing with a nagging foot problem.

For the last two seasons, the Toppers have won four games in four days en route to an NCAA tournament bid. This season, however, they will have to only win two games — on Saturday and Sunday — to get to the Big Dance.

“It’s really different,” Fant said. “Usually right now we’re getting ready for another game but we’re resting until Saturday, just taking in the sights and getting our minds ready for this game Saturday.”

Senior forward O’Karo Akamune laughed when he was asked about the two days the Toppers have off this season.

“I’m thankful to God,” Akamune said. “It feels so good to have those two games off. We get to also watch who we’re going to play.”

Harper said he understood that this break provided his team — in particular, his two leading scorers — a chance to get healthy.

“I think it was important to this team because of where we were health-wise,” Harper said. “T.J. couldn’t have played regardless of the situation on Saturday. George we probably could have played, but we (would be) taking a high risk and it just wouldn’t be worth it. 

“It’s good to get your two leading scorers back on the floor.”​