Sioux Falls, South Dakota – The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers of Conference USA have been the most impressive team in the Crossover Classic so far, with wins over Northern Iowa (93-87 in the opening round) and Memphis (75-69 in the second round).
Western Kentucky could present the West Virginia Mountaineers with some challenges today. Charles Bassey, the 6’11 junior center for the Hilltoppers, was Conference USA Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman, and he averaged 15.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks as a sophomore last season.
Bassey was spectacular yesterday against Memphis, finishing the game with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 7 block shots. Bassey is a talented offensive player and a rim protector defensively. Athough the Mountaineers are big under the basket, they won’t face many better interior players than Bassey this season.
In addition, Western Kentucky boasts two outstanding guards in Taveion Hollingsworth, a 6’2 senior from Lexington, Kentucky, and Dayvion McKnight, a 6’1 freshman from Shelbyville, Kentucky. Hollingsworth has dangerous so far in the Crossover Classic, averaging 22 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds per game while shooting 48.3% from the field. McKnight the talented freshman, has averaged 11.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game while shooting 53.8% from the field.
Forward Carson Williams is undersized at 6’5 but is a terrific rebounder and proven scorer, averaging 9.5 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Hilltoppers so far this season.
Western Kentucky is a deep, talented team that will will almost certainly be a tough NCAA Tournament team in March. If the Mountaineers play like they did in the first two games – poor perimeter shooting, average interior defense – the Hilltoppers can beat them.