WKU lives to play another day with the 66-48 victory over FIU (a score that was much more convincing than what most media members, including yours truly, thought it would be). After the game, the press conference gave me a few more good quotes and facts that are worth mentioning. I just sent my story through, so check WKUHerald.com here in a few for the game story.
- After the game, senior guard Orlando Mendez-Valdez gave his Player of the Game award to sophomore forward D.J. Magley, citing his contributions: three points, seven rebounds and only one turnover in 15 minutes. “I really think his minutes he played were really key,” Mendez-Valdez said. “He came and defended and held Freddy (Asprilla) to eight points. I mean, that counts for all the bigs. But I thought he had key rebounds and good decisions, passing back out or taking it when he had it. He was just playing really well. I strongly believe that he deserved it.”
- With his 18 points, Mendez-Valdez became the 42nd player in WKU history to surpass the 1,000 point plateau.
- You have to wonder what the bench is going to do. I know it’s like beating a dead horse, but when the horse is Secretariat, it matters. Magley and Anthony Sally (22 minutes, two points, four rebounds, one assist and three turnovers) played solid minutes, but the bench only contributed nine points, and after those two, the next biggest contributor was Matt Maresca, with six minutes and three fouls. A team can go seven-deep and last, but only for so long. And it isn’t been more than six-deep the entire season, sometimes only five-deep. This was a good start, but to win the tournament, they will have to have this on a consistent basis.
- An otherwise big bright spot was the Toppers’ ability to score in the half-court and rely on their set plays and grind-it-out possessions. WKU only had two fast break points (holding FIU to none) and won the points in the paint battle 26-20 against a sizeable FIU front line that was noticably bigger. Being able to rely on their trademark transition game, like they have all season, makes it a lot easier to play at any pace. When faced with a slow down team like Middle Tennessee State (which could be their next opponent), that can pay dividends.
- WKU is now 18-9 all-time in quarterfinal match-ups in the Sun Belt tournament.