MEN’S BASKETBALL: Videnov comes up big in send off

Danny Schoenbaechler

Filip Videnov has been known to have moments of dominance. Saturday, he took over the game and showed everyone how much he will be missed next season.

His second half heroics helped push Western to a 89-75 win over Middle Tennessee State. The Hilltoppers will now enter the Sun Belt Conference Tournament having won nine straight games.

It was Senior Night, and Videnov was honored before the game with fellow seniors David Boyden and Nate Williams.

Despite the emotional ceremonies, Western (21-8 overall, 12-2 Sun Belt) led MTSU only 36-35 at the half. The second half then began with forward William Pippen scoring to give MTSU a 37-36 lead.

Videnov then stole both the show and MTSU’s hopes of winning.

It started with a turn-around jumper, which was followed by back-to-back three-pointers.

On the next trip down floor he found room for a 12-footer, giving him 10 straight points. After a couple of buckets by the Raiders, he went back at it, hitting two jumpers, including another three.

By the time he cooled down, Videnov had beaten MTSU 15-5 and put the Hilltoppers up 51-42.

“His run in the second half was the only reason we kept our lead,” Western coach Dennis Felton said. “We had a time out and we talked about it. I was very blunt with our team, saying the only reason we still had the lead was because Filip was knocking down shots.”

The senior trio carried the Toppers down the stretch as they won their 36th straight home-game (again tying Oklahoma for the nation’s longest).

The three seniors scored 30 second half points, highlighted by Videnov’s career-high 23.

“I started feeling it, and I knew the shots were going in,” Videnov said. “It just felt good.”

Boyden chipped in 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Williams had 12 points.

The nine game win streak dates back to January when Western lost to Detroit.

After that loss, the team recommitted themselves.

“I think we really came together,” Videnov said. “Now we are playing really well.”

The task is simple for the Toppers as they enter the Sun Belt tournament. They need to win for a third straight year to qualify for the NCAA tournament.

“I think we have the momentum,” Videnov said. “It feels to me like we are going to be in the tournament again.”

The Toppers won the East Division and earned a first round bye in the conference tournament. They will play Florida International or New Orleans.

Western has the entire week off as they prepare for their second round game on Saturday night.

They will now try to ensure they’re playing their best basketball of the season.

“You can always do better,” Felton said. “I don’t know where we can be, we just want to get better.”

Reach Danny Schoenbaechler at [email protected]