Western Kentucky men’s basketball coach Rick Stansbury gives instructions to guard Luke Frampton during the Tops’ 79-74 win over Alabama State on Nov. 9 at E.A. Diddle Arena.

After a tough stretch on the road, the Western Kentucky men’s basketball team returns home for five straight games.

The Hilltoppers are scheduled to begin the homestand at 4 p.m. Wednesday against Alabama A&M at E.A. Diddle Arena.

“It’s huge, man. I’m ready to get the fans back in Diddle,” WKU redshirt senior guard Luke Frampton said. “We had that one against Alabama State early in the year, but we’re really excited to get the fans back and get this place jumping.”

The Hilltoppers (1-3) have played just one game at Diddle Arena so far this season – a 79-74 win over Alabama State in the opener – before out-of-state games against two Power Five programs and a nationally-ranked team.

WKU is coming off three straight losses to Minnesota and South Carolina in the Asheville Championship in Asheville, N.C., before a close contest at No. 11 Memphis in which it led for 13 and a half minutes. After Friday’s game against the Tigers, WKU was one of just six teams nationally to have already played a top 25 team and two Power Five opponents in the first two weeks of the season.

Despite the result of the latest contest – a 74-62 defeat – WKU head coach Rick Stansbury took mainly positives from the trip south.

“I came away from it knowing we’re going to be a pretty good team. That’s what I took from it,” Stansbury said after the loss to the Tigers. “I didn’t take no negatives at all – I took all positives. There ain’t no moral victories, but again, our guys just took one of the better teams in the country right down battling them now on their home court. There’s a lot of positive things I took from it.”

Now, the Hilltoppers settle into a five-game homestand that’ll start against Alabama A&M on Wednesday in the second game of a WKU women’s and men’s basketball doubleheader at Diddle.

The Bulldogs are just 1-3 this season but are coming off losses in back-to-back games against a Cincinnati team that is currently unbeaten and a UAB team whose only loss was by three to South Carolina.

Stansbury believes Alabama A&M will present a different challenge for a Hilltopper offense that’s averaging 68.5 points per game.

“One thing they do different than what we’ve seen – which will be good for us to have to play against for an extended period of time – is they’re going to zone,” the sixth-year WKU coach said. “We haven’t seen a lot of zone yet. I think South Carolina zoned us a little bit. Outside that, that’s about all the zone we’ve seen.

“Alabama A&M is going to zone you probably 80 or 90% of the game, so that will be different for us finding ways to score early against it before it gets set. Still, against any zone you’ve got to get it inside some, but any kind of zone makes you make some shots. When you play against some zones, you’ve got to make some shots.”

WKU is shooting just 29.5% from 3-point range this season but took a step forward in the Memphis loss by shooting 34.6% from deep, including 41.7% in the first half. Camron Justice led that with 4-of-8 shooting from 3 on his way to a team-high 18 points in his second game after regaining a year of eligibility. Point guard Dayvion McKnight leads WKU with 18.8 points and seven rebounds per game, while Jairus Hamilton (15 points per game), Justice (10.5) and Josh Anderson (10.5) each add double figures.

Jalen Johnson, a 6-foot-7 forward, leads Alabama A&M with 16.8 points per game and eight rebounds per game, while Garrett Hicks adds 11.5 points per game for the Bulldogs. Alabama A&M averages 59 points per game and is giving up an average of 79.5 points so far this season.

WKU is 3-0 all-time against Alabama A&M with all three games in Bowling Green, and Stansbury is 4-0 in his career against the Bulldogs.

The five-game homestand is the longest for WKU since playing seven in a row at home in the 2014-15 season. The Hilltoppers will follow Wednesday’s game with contests against UT Martin, Rhodes College, Eastern Kentucky and Buffalo.


4 p.m. Wednesday/E.A. Diddle Arena

Probable starters


Jalen Johnson, f, 6-7, jr. (16.8 ppg, 8 rpg); Cameron Tucker, g, 6-1, jr. (6.8 ppg, 2 rpg); Garrett Hicks, g, 6-0, jr. (11.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg); Eric Lee, g, 6-4, r-fr. (6.5 ppg, 3 rpg); EJ Williams, c, 6-10, jr. (5.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg).


Luke Frampton, g, 6-5, r-sr. (6 ppg, 3 rpg); Dayvion McKnight, g, 6-1, so. (18.8 ppg, 7 rpg); Jaylen Butz, f, 6-9, r-sr. (6.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg); Jairus Hamilton, f, 6-8, sr. (15 ppg, 3.8 rpg); Josh Anderson, g, 6-6, fifth-year sr. (10.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg).




Hilltopper Sports Network


Dylan Howard (20-61, fourth year; 20-61 overall), Alabama A&M; Rick Stansbury (104-63, sixth year; 397-229 overall), WKU.

Series record

WKU leads the series 3-0 (The Hilltoppers won the last meeting 79-70 on Dec. 16, 2015, at E.A. Diddle Arena).

Last time out

Alabama A&M lost 86-41 at UAB on Sunday; WKU lost 74-62 at No. 11 Memphis on Friday.{&end}

– Follow sports reporter Jared MacDonald on Twitter @JMacDonaldSport or visit