WKU overcomes early deficit to beat Murray State 71-64

WKU’s T.J. Price goes up for a layup as the Hilltoppers take on Murray State at E.A. Diddle Arena on Saturday, December 21, 2013. Western would go on to win their sixth straight home game 71-64.

Kyle Williams

WKU overcame a 14-point first half deficit to beat Murray State 71-64 in Diddle Arena on Saturday afternoon in the 151st meeting between the two schools.

WKU (7-4) led early 8-7 before Murray State put together an 18-4 run to jump out to a 25-12 lead in the first half, but the Toppers put on a show that turned the tables in the second half behind T.J. Price’s 15 points.

The junior who leads the team on the year with 16.2 points per game, was held scoreless until the 12 minute mark of the second half, when WKU’s come back brought Diddle Arena to life.

Coach Ray Harper said his team couldn’t match Murray State’s intensity coming out of the locker room, but as the game progressed, he saw improvement in his team.

“They came out and hit us in the mouth,” Harper said. “They were ready. As the game wore on, we were better. I thought our energy was better, I thought our decision making was better.”

Junior forward George Fant said that the home crowd kept the Toppers in the game even when Murray State went on its first-half run.

“Even when we were down by 11 at some point, they were still yelling for us and helping us get back in it,” Fant said.

Despite the first-half run by the Racers and woeful 32 percent shooting performance for WKU, the Toppers were down by just five points heading into the locker room.

Junior guard Trency Jackson and freshman guard Chris Harrison-Docks weathered the Murray State run for much of the first 20 minutes, as they combined for 18 points on 7-for-15 shooting in the first half.

WKU earned its first lead since having an 8-7 advantage in the first half at the 10:42 mark off a rebound and put back by Price for his second basket of the night.

Price went on to drain three 3-pointers en route to the Toppers notching a 71-64 victory against Murray State, who had won four of the last five meetings coming into the afternoon.

Price said that his teammates helped him out of his first-half funk and kept him in the game.

“I just came in and stayed with a positive attitude,” Price said. “My team kept me with a positive attitude…the team kept me in the game.”

Harrison-Docks led the way for WKU with 16 points. Price added 15, all of which came in the second half, and seven rebounds. Jackson and Fant each added 14 points.

WKU has recorded seven wins before Christmas for the second consecutive year and has improved to 22-5 at home under Harper.

The Toppers are back in action against Brescia on Dec. 28 at 7:00 p.m. in Diddle Arena.