Hilltoppers

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NCAAB Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

General Team Information:

NCAA Division: Division I
Conference: Conference USA (2014-present)
Past Conferences: Ohio Valley, Sun Belt
City: Bowling Green, Ky.
Stadium: E. A. Diddle Arena
NCAA Tournaments: 23 (1940, 1960, 1962, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1971, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1986, 1987, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013)

Championships:

National Championships: None
Conference Tournament Titles: 19 (1949, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1965, 1966, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1993, 1995, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013)
Conference Regular Season Titles: 29 (1949, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1987, 1994, 1995, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2021)

Team History

The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are a Division I program located in Bowling Green, Ky. Coached by Rick Stansbury, Western Kentucky joined Conference USA in 2014.

Western Kentucky is in a select company in terms of sustained success, ranking 15th in all-time victories among NCAA programs through 2020-21. Only seven schools — Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Duke, UCLA, UNLV and Syracuse — had a better winning percentage at that point.

The Hilltoppers last made the NCAA Tournament in 2013 and have been there 23 times overall. They reached the Final Four in 1971, but later had that appearance vacated by the NCAA after a former player, Jim McDaniels, was found to have signed a professional contract during the season.

Since the NCAA Tournament field expanded to 32 teams in 1975 and then doubled to 64 in 1985, the Hilltoppers have advanced to the Sweet 16 three times (1978, 1993, 2008). They did so as a No. 12 seed in 2008, defying the odds following a first-round upset of fifth-seeded Drake.

Most Recent Appearance: 2021

Western Kentucky has also participated in the National Invitational Tournament 15 times. When it was a finalist in 1942, losing 47-45 to West Virginia, the tournament was considered the premiere postseason event. It made the semifinals in 1948 and 1954, and again in 2018. The school’s most recent appearance came in 2021 on the heels of a C-USA regular season title.

The Hilltoppers went 21-8 that year, their fourth straight 20-win season and 47th all-time. Only six schools — Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, UCLA, Louisville — have hit that mark more frequently. Before joining C-USA in 2014, Western Kentucky won with regularity in the Sun Belt Conference, just as it had done as a member of the Ohio Valley Conference.

Stansbury, a former assistant at Texas A&M, replaced Ray Harper as coach in 2016. Previous coaches include Gene Keady, John Oldham and E.A. Diddle, for whom the school’s arena is named. Diddle won a program-record 759 games from 1923-64.

Western Kentucky has also established a strong pipeline to the NBA, with 46 draft picks since 1948. Charles Bassey became the latest Hilltopper picked when he was taken 53rd overall (second round) in 2021 by the Philadelphia 76ers. He was preceded by players such as Courtney Lee and Jim McDaniels, the program’s co-all-time leading scorers, and Clem Haskins.

All-Time Records

Points Scored

  • Courtney Lee: 2,238
  • Jim McDaniels: 2,238
  • Ralph Crosthwaite: 2,076

Rebounds

  • Ralph Crosthwaite: 1,309
  • Tom Marshall: 1,225
  • Jim McDaniels: 1,118

Assists

  • James McNary: 440
  • Derek Robinson: 413
  • Jamal Crook: 358

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