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Tops Open Regular Season Against MVC Favorite Missouri State

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Associated Press Associated Press

BOWLING GREEN, Ky.  WKU Hilltopper Basketball opens the regular season at 7 p.m. CT Friday when the Hilltoppers welcome Missouri State to E.A. Diddle Arena.

WKU went 3-0 in exhibition play in the preseason, winning at Division I program Samford and routing NAIA foes Campbellsville and Cumberland at home.

Missouri State is the preseason favorite to win the Missouri Valley Conference and features MVC Preseason Player of the Year Alize Johnson, a senior forward considered a strong NBA prospect.

 The Bears and Hilltoppers have never met, and WKU head coach Rick Stansbury has also never faced Missouri State.

GAME 1

Missouri State (0-0) at WKU (0-0)

November 10, 2017 | 7 p.m. CT

Bowling Green, Ky. | E.A. Diddle Arena

BROADCAST

Listen: Hilltopper IMG Sports Network (WKLX 100.7 FM flagship), CUSA.tv (free),  TuneIn Radio (free) (Randy Lee, pxp | Hal Schmitt, analysis)

Watch: HSSN – WKU PBS in Bowling Green, WBNA in Louisville; Online stream on CUSA.tv ($); Also on tape delay on Fox College Sports Pacific at 3 p.m. CT Saturday, Nov. 11

Live Stats: WKU Stats

QUICK SHOTS

• WKU has won 12 of its last 13 home openers and is 80-18 all-time in the season’s first home game. The Hilltoppers have won three straight season openers after dropping the previous three.

• The Hilltoppers have won 14 straight nonconference home games dating back to a loss to fourth-ranked Louisville on Dec. 20, 2014.

• WKU is 60-18 (.769) at E.A. Diddle Arena over the last five seasons after going 27-17 (.614) in the three seasons prior. The Hilltoppers are 584-166 all-time at Diddle Arena for a .779 winning percentage.

• WKU has made at least one 3-pointer in 938 consecutive games, dating back to March 15, 1987. The 3-point shot was instituted prior to the 1986-87 season.

• The Hilltoppers had six players averaging in double figures scoring through three exhibition wins, led by freshman guard Taveion Hollingsworth’s 20 points per game. Hollingsworth shot 71.4 percent overall.

• WKU scored 109 points in its exhibition win over Cumberland, its most points in any exhibition or regular-season game since scoring 110 against Hungarian team Atomeromu Se on Nov. 12, 2000.

• The Hilltoppers outscored their opponents by an average of 93-60 in their exhibition wins after winning both preseason tune-ups by eight or fewer points a year ago. They also outscored their final two exhibition opponents by a combined 128-46 in the paint this preseason.

• WKU grabbed 38 steals in three exhibition victories. The program never recorded more than nine steals in any regular-season game last year.

• Taveion Hollingsworth snagged seven steals in the win over Campbellsville. If the game had counted, it would’ve been the most steals in a game by a Hilltopper since Derek Robinson’s seven on Dec. 16, 2000.

• Senior guard Darius Thompson had 26 assists with just seven turnovers in three exhibitions. Including WKU’s three exhibitions in Costa Rica in August, Thompson had 46 assists against 11 turnovers.

• Senior forwards Dwight Coleby and Justin Johnson both averaged double-doubles in exhibition play, while freshman guard Jake Ohmer averaged 17 points per game with eight made 3s.

• Justin Johnson is tied for 36th on WKU’s all-time scoring list with 1,120 career points. He needs 23 points to move past Mike Prince, Jack Turner, Jim Rose and Dwight Smith into 33rd place.

• Justin Johnson currently ranks seventh on WKU’s all-time list for career field goal percentage at 55.3 percent. He’s less than a percentage point from fifth place.

• Justin Johnson needs 302 rebounds – the exact amount he grabbed as a junior – to reach 1,000 for his career. That would make him just the fifth player in WKU history with 1,000 career points and 1,000 rebounds, joining Tom Marshall, Art Spoelstra, Ralph Crosthwaite and Jim McDaniels, the last to accomplish the feat in 1971.

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