WKU basketball pic Jared Savage.JPG

Western Kentucky University junior forward Jared Savage said the Hilltoppers need to treat every possession like it's the last one. “From the tip all the way to the last buzzer,” he said. “Just play hard.”

The Western Kentucky University men’s basketball team will be playing its home opener against UT Martin at 6 p.m. Saturday in E.A. Diddle Arena.

The Hilltoppers (0-1) opened up their regular season Tuesday with a 73-55 loss to No. 25 Washington, while the Skyhawks (1-0) defeated Cumberland 91-58 in their first matchup.

During Friday's press conference at Diddle Arena — which was recorded and posted online by WKU Athletics — WKU men’s basketball coach Rick Stansbury said their game against Washington was definitely a learning experience for his players.

“I think the biggest thing about it — that probably was the most disappointing — was having the lead at halftime,” Stansbury said.

The Hilltoppers led Washington by nine points at the half.

Stansbury said when a team plays on the road, “winning and losing is a fine line,” especially “when you’re playing good teams.”

“That game went from nine points to four points in a hurry,” he said. “And it’s just not the points, it’s the emotion that changes both sides.”

Stansbury went on to say that they didn’t have consistent play out of their point guards, and they “have to get better there.”

“A lot of things we can learn from it,” he said. “We played against a really good zone.

“You gotta be able to play for 40 minutes. We didn’t do that, so we’ve gotta learn from it and get better the next time we see that kind of zone.”

Stansbury said they could have opened up their season against an easier team at home and beat them by 25 points.

“Would it have made us better?” he said. “Probably not. We got better from the other night. I can tell you that — just mentally.

“There’s no substitute for that experience you gain going on the road against a really good team.”

Looking forward, Stansbury said UT Martin is a team “that wants to get up and down the court.”

“They’ve got a bunch of guys who can score it,” he said. “They’re quick. They’ve got really good guard play.

“They’re going to fire up some shots.”

Stansbury said his team has “to get some rhythm and some chemistry playing together.”

WKU junior forward Jared Savage spoke at Friday’s press conference.

“We gotta finish games,” he said. “We had a nine-point lead (against Washington) going into halftime, came out (in the second half) kind of relaxed.

“They came back and kind of punched us in the mouth. We never recovered from that.”

Against Washington, Savage scored 15 points with six rebounds and two assists.

He said in order to improve moving forward, the Hilltoppers need to take every possession “like it’s the last one.”

“From the tip all the way to the last buzzer,” Savage said. “Just play hard.”

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