MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Western Kentucky junior guard Brandon Harris and sophomore T.J. Price didn’t help the Hilltoppers’ cause much Saturday.
The starting backcourt for WKU went a combined 3 of 15 from the floor, scored eight points, grabbed six rebounds, dished two assists and turned it over five times.
Price’s previous season low was two points against Louisville on Dec. 22, when he played eight minutes with an injured ankle. Harris didn’t score Saturday until 1:38 was left in the contest.
The two were under constant pressure from the Middle Tennessee guards in a 72-53 loss at the Murphy Center.
“That’s just the strength of our team, defensive guards and our ball pressure,” MTSU coach Kermit Davis said. “That’s just kind of what we do. Now, they’re out their point guard. I think he’ll be back next week, and he’s one of the best point guards in our league. Jamal Crook was having a great year, so there’s no doubt that’s part of some of their struggles.
“When he gets back healthy, that team will change again. But it’s what we do, we have a lot of good physicalness and defensive pressure in the backcourt.”
Price came in averaging 14 ppg, and Harris came in averaging nine. But both were MIA against MTSU while sophomore guard Kevin Kaspar picked up the slack, scoring 14 to lead WKU.
“Yeah, they were pretty physical,” Kaspar said of MTSU’s guard play. “They told us before the game they would pick up full the whole game. They were tough.”
Hilltoppers after one
of JUCO’s top scorers
The latest twist and turn to the Western Kentucky basketball recruiting cycle comes in the form of Cameron Forte.
Forte is a 6-foot-7-inch forward playing at Howard College in Big Spring, Texas, where he is averaging 22.7 points – second in the nation in the junior college ranks – and 7.8 rebounds per game. His 168 made field goals this year is the most in JUCO.
Howard coach Mark Adams confirmed Saturday that Forte and WKU have spoken, but he wasn’t sure how serious the discussions were at this point.
Forte spent one year at Texas Tech before leaving. He then signed with Northern Arizona but was denied a waiver from the NCAA to play right away.
As a senior at McClintock High School in Arizona, Forte scored 60 points in a game. He averaged 36.2 points that year and was named to the Arizona Republic’s All-Arizona team in 2011. McClintock won the Class 4A state title during Forte’s junior year.
According to a Lubbock Avalanche-Journal article in 2011, Forte said he had offers from Washington, Seton Hall, Texas-El Paso, Northern Colorado, Fresno State and Houston Baptist, and had planned on going to prep school before TTU and coach Billy Gillispie came calling.
According to Rivals.com, Forte also had offers from Cal-Poly and Hofstra.
On Jan. 12, Forte scored 26 points as Howard beat South Plains College 68-65.
Western Kentucky has signed Alassane Kah from Fishburne Military Academy for the 2013-14 season, and Butler transfer Chris Harrison-Docks is already enrolled in school and working with the team as a walk-on until one of two available scholarships becomes available.
The Hilltoppers will lose two seniors to graduation – point guard Jamal Crook and center Teeng Akol. The spring signing period begins April 17 and runs through May 15.
NOTES — In 12 games against teams with winning records, WKU won two (DePaul, Florida International). ... WKU senior center Teeng Akol is five blocked shots away from passing Mike Wells’ 92 career blocked shots, seventh most in program history. ... The Hilltoppers have turned it over at least 10 times in 10 straight games. ... WKU has made at least one 3-pointer in 794 straight games. ... Middle Tennessee improved to 11-0 at home this year and has won 23 straight regular season home games. ... The Blue Raiders improved to 12-0 when allowing between 50 and 59 points, 15-0 when leading at the half, 18-0 when shooting at a better percentage than their opponent and 17-0 when recording more assists.
WESTERN KENTUCKY (11-11)
Fant 2-7 5-8 9, Rostov 1-1 1-2 3, Kaspar 6-9 0-0 14, Harris 1-5 0-0 3, Price 2-10 1-2 5, Anyigbo 0-1 0-0 0, Dickerson 0-2 0-0 0, Blade 0-0 0-0 0, Akamune 1-1 3-4 5, Akol 0-1 0-0 0, Drane 2-3 5-6 9, Vasquez 1-1 2-5 5. Totals 16-41 17-27 53.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE (18-4)
Hunter 3-8 7-11 13, Sulton 3-5 1-4 7, Massey 3-7 4-4 10, M. Knight 6-9 2-2 15, Hammonds 2-3 0-0 6, Z. Gibson 0-0 0-0 0, Gallman 0-1 0-0 0, T. Knight 1-2 0-0 3, S. Jones 3-7 1-2 7, Cintron 3-8 1-3 9, Walker 1-1 0-0 2, G. Gibson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-52 16-26 72.
Halftime—Middle Tennessee 30-23. 3-Point Goals—W. Kentucky 4-15 (Kaspar 2-4, Vasquez 1-1, Harris 1-5, Dickerson 0-1, Price 0-4), Middle Tennessee 6-16 (Hammonds 2-2, Cintron 2-7, M. Knight 1-1, T. Knight 1-1, Gallman 0-1, G. Gibson 0-1, Massey 0-1, Hunter 0-2). Fouled Out—Sulton. Rebounds—W. Kentucky 27 (Akamune, Harris, Kaspar, Vasquez 4), Middle Tennessee 33 (Massey 7). Assists—W. Kentucky 4 (Akol, Harris, Kaspar, Price 1), Middle Tennessee 17 (Massey 6). Total Fouls—W. Kentucky 21, Middle Tennessee 25. A—10,105.