Western Kentucky (3-0) will continue the college basketball season in the Cayman Islands Classic this upcoming week, tipping off game one against Akron (2-1) on Monday at 12:30 p.m. CT. The contest will be televised live from John Gray Gymnasium on FloHoops.
The Hilltoppers have recorded an 8-6 record in regular season tournaments since the 2017 campaign, collecting two victories in the 2017 Battle 4 Atlantis, 2018 Myrtle Beach Invitational, 2019 Paradise Jam and 2020 Crossover Classic.
Western Kentucky is looking for their fourth straight win against Akron as the Hilltoppers enter the contest with a 3-0 overall record after defeating Eastern Kentucky, Kentucky State and the University of Indianapolis.
As of Saturday, the Hilltoppers are leading the nation in three-point shooting percentage with 54.2% shooting from beyond the arc. Western Kentucky is additionally second in the nation in blocks per game with 8.2 and three-pointers per game with 13.0. The Hilltoppers are also fourth in the country in field goal percentage defense with 29.8% and defensive rebounds per game with 35.0 so far this season.
Junior guard Dayvion McKnight led the Hilltoppers in their most recent game, recording 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one block and two steals. Fifth year forward Jairus Hamilton was also a significant performer, dropping 13 points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal. Sixth year guard Emmanuel Akot collected nine points, one rebound and three assists.
Akron has established a 2-1 mark so far this season, opening their season with an 81-80 overtime win over South Dakota State. The Zips fell short 73-54 to Mississippi State in the Barstool Sports Invitational and returned to the winning column with a 65-59 win over Morgan State last week.
In their last matchup, forward Enrique Freeman led the Zips with 17 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, three blocks and one steal. Guard Xavier Castaneda logged 16 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals. Guard Nate Johnson picked up 11 points, two rebounds, one assist and two steals.
Western Kentucky holds an 8-2 lead in the all-time series against Akron and have never met each other on a neutral court. The last time the two met on the court, the Hilltoppers were ranked 25th in the nation and recorded a 78-68 win over the Zips.
In their last meeting, the nationally-ranked Hilltoppers managed to remain on top by the end of the first half, recording a 30-22 lead. In the second half of the contest, Western Kentucky outscored Akron 48-46 to register their eight victory in the series.