Freshman walk-on shines in WKU’s exhibition win

Tyler Lashbrook

WKU opened its first game in Diddle with an exhibition win Saturday, defeating Campbellsville 87-73.

The Toppers struggled to gain any moment against the scrappy Tigers, who refused to go away. The Tigers took the lead 49-47 with just under 15 minutes remaining in the second half but an 11-0 run by the Toppers regained the momentum for WKU as the team coasted through the remaining 10 minutes of the game.

It was a tough shooting night for WKU’s two top players, junior forward George Fant and junior guard T.J. Price. Fant dominated the rebounds and found himself at the free-throw line 13 times but converted just five attempts.

Price, the team’s leading scorer from last year, struggled from the floor — he shot 4-of-12 — but anchored the team’s press defense, which forced Campbellsville into 18 turnovers.

Price said that the Toppers still need a lot of work.

“Campbellsville’s no push over and that’s why we schedule them,” Price said. “We know they’re going to give us a good look at what we really needed.”

Senior guard Brandon Harris suffered a sprained right foot early in the first half, giving freshman walk-on Brandon Price a chance to play big minutes for the Toppers.

The walk-on answered with 15 points in 21 minutes of action and turned the ball over just once, while running the offense.

On defense he was flying around, diving after loose balls and his energy helped WKU maintain through tough stretches. With less than 30 seconds left and the Toppers sitting in the driver’s seat, Brandon Price dove on the floor after a loose ball to gain possession for WKU. That extra possession closed out the game.

Coach Ray Harper said that play summed up what he brings to the team.

“That’s who we need to be as a basketball team — play with that type of energy,” Harped said. “I thought he was the difference, no question.”

T.J. Price was asked about Brandon’s play ‘— he said he expected good play out of someone who shared his last name.

“He’s a Price,” he joked. “I always knew that he was going to do good.

“He comes to practice every day ready to work. He just wants to learn, he’s not hard-headed.”

At Media Day, Harper said that Harris, junior guard Kevin Kaspar and freshman guard Payton Hulsey will split minutes at the point guard position. On Saturday, he was asked if Brandon Price might steal some of those minutes.

“I think he’s already stolen some,” Harper replied. “Based off what we’ve seen in our preseason and the way he played today.

“Someone’s going to have to come beat him out next week. That’s the way I look at it. Knowing him, I’m not sure he’ll allow that to happen.”