Every year we play WKU around the holidays, every year they seem to play us tough and just about every year I can't watch the game because of family commitments. Here's hoping only 2 of those 3 things happen again this year.
Everyone has holiday traditions: grandparents house on the 23rd, or the 26th, or the afternoon of Christmas day. Mom's side one day, Dad's side another, step-families the next. Eight nights of gatherings and lights. What have you. One of my more recent traditions is missing the WKU game. Of all the times we have played WKU in recent seasons (and even since I was a kid) the only games that I really got to watch were 2008 (the disaster in Nashville) and the early 90s game where Dwayne Morton missed a dunk at the end of the game that would have won it.
Last year's game I was at an in-law event with a bunch of UK fans and had to listen to concern trolling through dinner and then the radio call on the way home as Russ kept getting to the foul line. Two years ago, I was with friends but have relived the game over and over thanks to Villen. I may or may not have been at this game, I have no memory of it whatsoever. Although re-reading, that may have been the first official VillenHD video? Amazing.
All of this is a long way to say, it wouldn't be the holidays without a Western Kentucky game that I have to miss (family obligations tonight), but hopefully this year's game is a little less competitive than last year's or the last time we played them in the 615.
On paper it should be: we are 20+ point favorites and we are playing a high level of basketball right now. Western Kentucky is coming off of 2 losses against the 2 best teams they've played this year: VCU and Murray State. They eked out a win against Southern Illinois but since we did the same, there's no shame there. The Toppers return many of the guys who played us so well last year, including one George Fant, who played with Chane growing up and made the most of the matchup in 2011. Guard TJ Price leads the team in scoring, but sat out the last 3 games. He is listed as "questionable" and would have to play and be a major factor if WKU wants to shock the region tonight.
WKU turned the ball over a whopping 32 times against VCU, so if our pressure can pick up a bit from the FIU game (although there may have been some "don't play zone at all" shenanigans) then we should be able to get some easy buckets.
No easy games from here on out, and regardless of how this matchup looks on e-paper, you can count on WKU playing us close just like you can on your UK fan cousins to troll you at Christmas with the "if you don't beat us this year you will never beat us again" message. Hopefully they won't have this to talk about too.
Happy Holidays everyone.