Athens, GA — Not only did Courtney Lee lead all scorers with 24 points Tuesday, his block on the defensive end in the final minute led to Western Kentucky University’s first lead of the night as the Hilltoppers rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final six minutes to earn a 70-67 non-conference men’s basketball victory over Georgia at Stegeman Coliseum.
With the shot clock running down, Lee rejected Billy Humphrey’s three-point attempt with 25 seconds remaining and then hit Benson Callier at the other end of the court. Callier was fouled trying to lay the ball in, but hit the first of two free throws at 0:20 to give WKU (2-0) a 68-67 advantage.
After Lee rebounded Mike Mercer’s missed jumper, he was fouled by Steve Newman and made both free throws with nine seconds to go to seal the victory. Lee hit 8-of-14 shots from the field in scoring 12 points in each half, adding three rebounds.
Rashaad Singleton’s layup at 6:07 to go made the score 65-55, giving the Bulldogs (1-1) their second 10-point lead of the night. WKU responded with eight unanswered points, starting the rally with Jeremy Evans’ three-point play. Lee hit two free throws and Evans made 1-of-2 at the line before a Lee layup at 4:23 made the score 65-63 and forced a UGA time-out.
Newman’s layup with 3:49 left upped the advantage to four, but would be the Bulldogs’ final points of the night.
Lee hit a jumper with 2:17 remaining to cut WKU’s deficit in half, then Tyrone Brazelton converted a layup with 1:43 left to tie the contest for the first time since it was 5-5 just under two minutes into the contest.
“I was very encouraged by how our guys just stuck with it even when things weren’t going well. I thought we played with a lot of toughness and poise, all things considered, and regardless whether we came out on top I was really pleased with our approach tonight,” said Hilltopper head coach Darrin Horn. “Another thing that was encouraging for us is that we want to play up-tempo, we want to pressure and guard full court, but we know if we want to be really
good we have to defend in the half court — really, on the key possessions, we did that in the half court without a ton of pressure.
“It was a really good defensive effort by our guys, but we have a lot of room to get better.”
Brazelton helped key the rally by scoring 11 of his 12 points in the final 20 minutes, and he added three rebounds and two assists. Daniel Emerson had 14 points and six boards, Evans came off the bench to add eight points and a game-best nine rebounds, and Callier pulled down eight boards. Orlando Mendez-Valdez matched a career-high with six assists in 17 minutes in relief of Brazelton.
Levi Stukes led UGA with 13 points off the bench, while Humphrey and Mercer scored 12 each and Sundiata Gaines added 10. Singleton chipped in with seven points and a team-high six rebounds.
Both teams shot better than 50 percent from the floor prior to halftime, but saw that percentage drop dramatically — WKU converted 41.9 percent after the break, but limited UGA to 27.6 percent shooting on the other end of the court. After combining to make 11 treys in the first half, the two teams shot 0-of-18 from beyond the arc.
- From WKU -