Hilltoppers begin final stretch of regular season against FAU and UTSA

Kaden Gaylord-Day, Men's Basketball Reporter

WKU Basketball (12-11, 4-6 C-USA) head coach Rick Stansbury, senior Jairus Hamilton and super senior Josh Anderson met with the media Wednesday afternoon ahead of the Hilltoppers’ matchups against the Florida Atlantic Owls (15-9, 8-3 C-USA) and the Texas San Antonio Roadrunners (8-17, 1-11 C-USA).

“I feel like right now, we’re playing confidently,” Anderson said. “Everybody is playing their roles, doing their parts, and I feel like we’re just coming together as a team more.”

The Hilltoppers and Owls met earlier this year in Boca Raton, Fla., with the Owls pulling out the win 78-69. Dayvion McKnight led WKU with 22 points, five assists and nine rebounds, while Camron Justice added 18 points and five assists. 

WKU controlled the game for the first half, but FAU came out shooting the lights out in the second, hitting eight of their 11 threes for the game. Out of their 33 makes, 22 had assists that came with them. 

Another big part of the game was the Owls’ defense and freshman big man Vladislav Goldin was able to hold the tallest player in the country to zero points and five rebounds. 

FAU still leads the conference in three-point shooting at 38% while WKU is dead last in opponents’ three-point percentage. The Hilltoppers looked a little revamped on the defensive end after their past road trip, holding Charlotte to 26% (6-of-23) and Old Dominion to 29% (6-of-21). 

FAU reigns in first place in the East division at 8-3 in the conference. They are 6-0 at home but 2-3 on the road. 

“We’re definitely going to need the fans,” Hamilton said. “They’re a really good team, and we always play well for our fans surrounding us and having them on our back. For the last couple times, our fans here haven’t been able to get a [win], so right now we’re feeling really good, we would love to get a W for our fans.”

Stansbury talked about redshirt senior Luke Frampton and his injury that kept him out of the second half against ODU. There was no major damage to Frampton’s knee. He went through exercises to see where he is physically and mentally. Stansbury said as of now his status is unknown, but long term he should be fine. Anderson will move to the starting lineup. 

After the short home stint, the Hilltoppers will head to San Antonio to play UTSA. The Roadrunners have only won one game in conference, against FIU 73-66 on Jan. 23. Since the start of conference play, the Roadrunners have lost 10 of their last 11 games. 

Despite being one of the best offenses in the conference, they have one of the worst defenses. The last time these two teams played was in the quarterfinals of the C-USA tournament where WKU won 80-67. 

This is a whole new team, with a different identity than previous years. Sophomore Jordan Ivy-Curry leads the team with 15 points, with juniors Dhieu Dieng and Jacob Germany following him with 14 points per game. The matchup between 6-foot Germany and 7-foot-5 Sharp will be key for either team to get the win. 

WKU is set to take on FAU inside Diddle Arena Thursday at 7 p.m. The road matchup with UTSA will be Saturday at 3 p.m. 

Men’s Basketball Reporter Kaden Gaylord-Day can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @_KLG3.