Aulbach: It’s going to be an interesting break for Topper basketball team

Junior T.J. Price dunks the ball. WKU won 68-53 against Eastern Illinois on Nov. 30, 2013 at EA Diddle Arena. 

Lucas Aulbach

Fans who tuned in to watch the men’s basketball team fall 74-62 to Bowling Green State on Monday probably ended up wishing they were watching Topper Talk, Antiques Roadshow, or hell, any other show the WKU PBS station normally broadcasts.

It was a brutal night for the Toppers. WKU shot 25 percent in the second half, hit 12-of-27 free throws and were hardly competitive after giving up an early 9-0 lead. Luckily for them, Christmas may be coming early in the form of two immediate contributors who will be able to play at the end of the semester.

Redshirt freshman Chris Harrison-Docks and junior Trency Jackson, a pair of transfer guards, will each be eligible to hit the court for the first time in WKU’s red and white on Dec. 14 against Louisville.

The Toppers need offense. It’s no secret — WKU (4-3) ranks No. 333 in the NCAA in points per game, posting an average of less than 63 points through seven games this season on just .387 shooting.

Other guys are contributing — junior forward Aaron Adeoye, in his first season at WKU, trails junior forward George Fant with 5.5 rebounds per game, and freshman guard Payton Hulsey looks like a natural fit to replace Jamal Crook at the point.

But Fant and junior guard T.J. Price are scoring an average of 30.2 of WKU’s points per game, with no one else averaging more than 5.7. Once you get past those two guys, I just don’t see a lot of scoring on this team yet.

That could change at the start of winter break. Harrison-Docks, who was on Butler’s roster as a point guard for two exhibition games, looks like a lights-out three-point shooter in the limited highlights I’ve seen from him, and Jackson was a one-man highlight reel and top scorer at Hilltopper Hysteria back in October. I’d expect both of them to see immediate playing time.

Coach Ray Harper has made it sound like Jackson in particular should become an important part of the WKU lineup as soon as he’s eligible. He became a fan favorite with his high-flying dunks at Hilltopper Hysteria. If the 19-point, five-three-pointer effort from that night proves to be more of a norm than an outlier, the Toppers may have found the third scorer that they desperately need.

Aside from bringing the new guys into the lineup, WKU should have other goals for the break — specifically, get off to a good start in conference play.

The Toppers’ Sun Belt Conference schedule is set to kick off on Jan. 2 at South Alabama. WKU will be tested coming down the December stretch against NCAA Tournament teams such as Louisville and Ole Miss — if the Toppers can pick up some experience against the national contenders, they should have a better shot of living up to their preseason Sun Belt champion predictions.