Crook seals win over Tennessee State with first three-pointer

Jamal Crook finished with a team-high 13 points and hit his first three-pointer Monday to push WKU past Tennessee State, 52-49.

Cole Claybourn

Monday night’s game between WKU and Tennessee State

might not have been pretty, but you wouln’t know that from talking

to Head Coach Ken McDonald.

Either way, after 11 ties and 14 lead changes in a

game that had 44 combined turnovers, WKU (1-1) escaped with a 52-49

victory over visiting Tennessee State.

“I thought it was beautiful because we were on the

right side,” McDonald said. “The guys battled. They really battled,

and it was an exciting finish and a lot of guys stepped up. We made

our share of mistakes.

“We had a lot of turnovers that were kind of

careless, but we will learn from that.

With less than two minutes left, junior guard Jamal

Crook hit his first career three-pointer to give WKU a 48-45 lead

in what proved to be a banner night, and an eventful final two

minutes, for him.

He finished with a career-high 13 points to lead WKU

and dished out three assists.

“Aw, thank God for that. It was big,” Crook said of

the shot. “I just got to keep working on my three-point shot,

really. I lucked up and hit that one, so I just want to continue to

hit them down the line.”

But the final minute proved to be somewhat of a

rollercoaster for Crook.

After the go-ahead three-pointer, Crook committed a

foul that led to one TSU free throw to bring lead back within


Crook then hit a decisive shot to give WKU a

four-point lead, 50-46 with 54 second left, after trailing by three

just minutes beforehand. After WKU struggled to find a shot, Crook

threw up a prayer near the three-point line as the shot clock

expired that hit off the backboard, bounced on the rim then fell


It was originally ruled a three-pointer, but referees

checked the monitor and ruled a two.

Following a foul by senior guard Kahlil McDonald, TSU

hit one free throw. Crook then turned the ball over and TSU

capitalized to make it a one-point game.

But after a possession in which TSU called a timeout

midway through and still couldn’t get the look they wanted, Crook

came down with the rebound and was fouled. 

He hit two critical free throws with six seconds left

to give WKU a 52-49 lead.

TSU had the chance to tie the game on the last

possession, but their three-point attempt went off the mark.

Ken McDonald said he was impressed by the way Crook

handled himself during the final two minutes.

“Jamal’s very emotional, and sometimes that works

against him,” McDonald said. “When things are going really well,

you can see his energy and his body language where it picks up. And

then sometimes when he struggles a little bit, he has a tendency to

kind of get down on himself and too down on himself.

“He’s got to shake himself out of that. Tonight he

had reason to show that bad body language and he didn’t, he stepped

up and made plays.”

Crook said he was just happy to help his team get its

first win, saying he knows from experience what that can do for a

team’s confidence.

“It feels good getting our first win, our first home

(win),” he said. “We just got to go over film and look at our

mental errors and go from there.”