2012 Sun Belt Basketball Tournament: Western Kentucky Defeats North Texas For NCAA Tourney Bid

The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers will represent the Sun Belt in the NCAA Tournament after defeating North Texas, 74-70.

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2012 Sun Belt Champion: Western Kentucky Tops North Texas, 74-70

In a highly entertaining game back-and-forth game, the No. 7 seed Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (15-18_ pulled off the 74-70 win over the No. 5 seed North Texas Mean Green for the 2012 Sun Belt Tournament championship and an automatic bid to the the NCAA Tournament. The Hilltoppers had to win four games in four nights to pull this off and are currently on a 6-0 winning streak. And let's not forget to mention that the school fired its head coach after a 5-11 start.

The Mean Green had at one point built a 13-point lead, 55-42, against the Hilltoppers, but just as quickly as it came it went away. Teeng Akol had the top performance with his 25 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. He was 9-of-12 from the field for the Hilltoppers.

George Fant and Kahlil McDonald were huge for Western Kentucky as well, scoring 17 and 14 points, respectively. They combined to go 13-of-13 from the free throw line, with the team 19-of-22 overall from the charity stripe.

North Texas was led by Tony Mitchell's 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting, but their defense let them down, especially when they held that 13-point lead. Alzee Williams and Brandon Walton each chipped in 14 points while Jacob Holmen added 13 points.

Western Kentucky will now wait until Sunday to find its seed for the NCAA Tournament.

For updates on the tournament, stick with SB Nation Denver. Head over to SB Nation NCAA Basketball for more news and notes from around the college hoops world. Stay up to date with the 2012 Sun Belt Tournament bracket.

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Sun Belt Basketball Championship Game 2012: North Texas Vs. Western Kentucky Settles Spot In Big Dance

The 2012 Sun Belt Tournament comes to an end on Tuesday evening when the No. 5 North Texas Mean Green and the No. 7 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers take the court at Summit Arena in Hot Springs, Ark. For the Denver Pioneers and its fans, this is a disappointing day because the team was the No. 3 seed and the prohibitive favorite to win the conference's automatic bid. Yet, that all ended with a 67-63 loss to the Hilltoppers on Monday night.

Should the Hilltoppers, 14-18 overall, pull off this upset victory, the NCAA Tournament will have a team with a losing record as its Sun Belt conference representative, which just goes to show that even a playoff doesn't solve every postseason issue in college sports. Oh, and the Hilltoppers fired their head coach in early January after a 5-11 start.

North Texas defeated the Arkansas St. Red Wolves on Monday night in the early game, 76-72. All five starters scored at least 10 points, led by Jacob Holmen's 21 points (5-of-5 from beyond the arc). North Texas defeated Western Kentucky earlier in the season, 84-67, but that wound up meaning little to the Pioneers (who did the same to the Hilltoppers).

Game time/date: 5:00 p.m. MT, Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Location: Summit Arena, Hot Springs, Ark.

TV: ESPN2/ESPN3

For updates on the tournament, stick with SB Nation Denver. Head over to SB Nation NCAA Basketball for more news and notes from around the college hoops world. Stay up to date with the 2012 Sun Belt Tournament bracket.

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2012 Sun Belt Tournament, Denver Vs. Western Kentucky: Game Time, TV Schedule And More

The Denver Pioneers are the prohibitive favorite to win the 2012 Sun Belt Tournament now that they are highest remaining seed in the tournament at No. 3. The No. 1 Middle Tenn. St. Blue Raiders and the No. 2 Ark.-Little Rock Trojans both fell in the quarterfinals on Sunday, the No. 7 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Denver's opponent, defeating the latter team.

Denver picked up a 61-50 victory over the No. 6 South Alabama Jaguars on Saturday night. Brian Stafford and Rob Lewis tied for the team-high of 14 points while Royce O'Neale put in 11 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. They fended off Augustine Rubit, who scored 21 points.

Western Kentucky was powered by Derrick Gordon's 25 points and 15 rebounds in the victory over the Trojans. George Fant (13 points) and Kahlil McDonald (11) joined Gordon in double digits, but the team shot just 38.2 percent in the game.

Let's see how Chris Udofia performs in this game. He scored 20 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in Denver's 78-65 victory on Jan. 15.

Game time/date: 7:30 p.m. MT, Monday, March 5, 2012

Location: Summit Arena, Hot Springs, Ark.

TV: Sun Belt Network

For updates on the tournament, stick with SB Nation Denver. Head over to SB Nation NCAA Basketball for more news and notes from around the college hoops world. Stay up to date with the 2012 Sun Belt Tournament bracket.

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Sun Belt Tournament Schedule 2012: Denver Pioneers Start Postseason Vs. South Alabama

The 2012 Sun Belt Tournament in Hot Springs, Ark., continues to heat up on Sunday when eight teams will be whittled down to the final four. There were no major upsets on Saturday night when three games were played. The No. 9 Arkansas St. Red Wolves did defeat the No. 8 Florida Atlantic Owls, 70-55, but that's hardly an upset with the teams so close together in seeding. The Red Wolves will have a real test when they face the No. 1 Middle Tenn. St. Blue Raiders on Sunday.

The No. 6 South Alabama Jaguars defeated the No. 11 Troy Trojans to advance to the quarterfinals. They will play the No. 3 Denver Pioneers, who will be missing senior guard Chase Hallam. The No. 7 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers fended off the No. 10 Fla. International Golden Panthers, 67-64, to face the No. 2 Ark.-Little Rock Trojans on Sunday.

The only quarterfinals matchup that was known before Sunday was the No. 4 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns' contest against the No. 5 North Texas Mean Green. They will play the second game of the day. For the complete schedule on Sunday, see below:

Sunday, March 4 (All times MT)
Game 4 - No. 1 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 9 Arkansas St. - 5:00 p.m. (Sun Belt Network - Summit Arena)
Game 5 - No. 4 Louisiana-Lafayette vs. No. 5 North Texas - 5:15 p.m. (Convention Center Court)
Game 6 - No. 2 UALR vs. No. 7 Western Kentucky - 7:30 p.m. (Sun Belt Network - Summit Arena)
Game 7 - No. 3 Denver vs. No 6 South Alabama - 7:45 p.m. (Convention Center Court)

For updates on the tournament, stick with SB Nation Denver. Head over to SB Nation NCAA Basketball for more news and notes from around the college hoops world.

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Sun Belt Tournament Schedule 2012: Bracket Kicks Off With 3 Games On Saturday

The 2012 Sun Belt Tournament begins in Hot Springs, Ark., on Saturday with three opening round matchups featuring seeds 6-11. The Denver Pioneers, as the No. 3 seed, will wait until Sunday to begin play, but they will keep their eyes mostly on Game 1, which pits the No. 6 South Alabama Jaguars against the No. 11 Troy Trojans. Winner faces Denver. The Pioneers went 2-0 against those teams during the regular season by scores of 79-62 and 67-50, respectively.

In the day's other action, the No. 8 Florida Atlantic Owls and the No. 9 Arkansas St. Red Wolves will vie for a spot to play the No. 1 Middle Tenn. St. Blue Raiders. For the Ark.-Little Rock Trojans, the No. 7 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and the No. 10. Fla. International Golden Panthers will look to gain a shot at defeating the No. 2 seed on Sunday.

Saturday, March 3 (Games will be shown on SBC Extra webcast[$])
Game 1 - No. 6 South Alabama vs. No. 11 Troy - 5:00 p.m. (Summit Arena)
Game 2 - No. 8 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 9 Arkansas State - 5:15 p.m. (Convention Center Court)
Game 3 - No. 7 Western Kentucky vs. No. 10 FIU - 7:30 p.m. (Summit Arena)

For updates on the tournament, stick with SB Nation Denver. Head over to SB Nation NCAA Basketball for more news and notes from around the college hoops world.

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North Texas Vs. Denver Final Score: Pioneers Capture Sun Belt's No. 3 Seed With 64-52 Victory Over Mean Green

The Denver Pioneers needed a win against the North Texas Mean Green on Sunday to pick up its 21st victor over the season and the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Sun Belt Conference Tournament. A 64-52 victory on Sunday at Magness Arena provided the Pioneers with that and a win in its last-ever regular season Sun Belt game. The Pioneers will be in the Western Athletic Conference next season.

North Texas played the Pioneers a bit closer in the second half, being outscored by five points, 37-32; however; there wasn't a finish like the teams' previous game, which saw Alzee Williams tip in a bucket at the buzzer in overtime.

Royce O'Neale had the best all-around game with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 7 steals. Chris Udofia and Brian Stafford each put in 15 points, but the former added six rebounds, three blocks and two steals.

For North Texas, Williams scored 10 points and pulled down seven boards. Tony Mitchell fell a point short of a double-double, scoring nine points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

For more on the Pioneers, stick with SB Nation Denver. Head over to SB Nation NCAA Basketball for more news and notes around the college hoops world.

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