Keeping everything in perspective is important for Rick Stansbury when evaluating Western Kentucky’s last time out.
As bad as the first half was against Louisville, the Hilltoppers gave themselves a chance to make it interesting later against the team that now ranks No. 1 in the country.
That kind of opportunity won’t happen again. WKU (6-2) is moving on and hopes it can apply lessons learned from that neutral-site contest in Nashville last Friday and take it into the second half of its nonconference schedule.
WKU continues its stay on the road with a trip to Wright State (6-2) Tuesday night at 6 p.m. CST in Dayton, Ohio.
The Hilltoppers know they won’t experience the caliber of competition they faced in Friday’s 71-54 loss to the top-ranked Cardinals, who were No. 2 at the time and moved up in the latest Associated Press and USA Today polls on Monday. Charles Bassey nearly had a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds going against Cardinals centers Steven Enoch and Malik Williams.
Stansbury also knows WKU won’t see another player like Jordan Nwora, who was picked as the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Preseason Player of the Year.
“There’s no question we’ll benefit from this game,” Stansbury said after the loss at Bridgestone Arena. “I think from the standpoint of preparation for these guys and the multiple ways they’re able to attack your size and strength, we’re not going to see a lot of that. Not many teams are going to see that.”
WKU didn’t help itself in the loss. The team that has shot well for the most part this season fell into its worst shooting yet by hitting 1 of 17 3-point attempts and didn’t see the free-throw line in the first half. The team shot 37 percent for the game, trailed by 14 in the second half and cut it to a single-digit game with nine minutes left.
“We’re disappointed in the loss, but I’m proud of the way our guys battled back,” Stansbury said. “You could’ve easily laid down after the first 12 minutes of that game down 14 and get beat. We didn’t. We fought back. … Give credit to these guys for not laying down and keep fighting and keep battling through to the end.”
That leads WKU into Wright State, the second mid-major team on WKU’s schedule picked to win its conference. The Raiders earned 28 out of 36 first-place votes in the preseason poll to win the Horizon League. Wright State has a one-point loss to Kent State and a two-point loss to La Salle while averaging 80.1 points per game.
Fourth-year coach Scott Nagy leans on preseason All-Conference selection Bill Wampler (15.4 points per game) and 6-foot-8 center Loudon Love for 13.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
WKU won its only contest against Wright State in 2017.
The Raiders feature Bowling Green native Skyelar Potter, who averages 6.7 points and three rebounds in 15.3 minutes off the bench in seven games. Potter averaged over 20 points per game as a junior and senior at Warren Central High School.