DAYTON, Ohio (WHAS11) – On Tuesday night the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers tip-off against Mississippi Valley State fighting for the chance to play Kentucky at the KFC Yum Center Thursday evening.
But Tuesday’s game in Dayton, Ohio will have a very special spectator, the president of the United States! Ohio is also a key state in the presidential election.
"This is do or die. It's just a bigger stage. We are going to keep that mindset," Kahlil McDonald, WKU senior, said.
A mindset the Hilltoppers have come to live by. On Feb. 19 they were down and out with a 5-11 record. Then Coach Ray Harper took over.
"If you believe in what you are doing. You've a chance. No one gave us a chance to be here today other than the guys in that locker room and the coaches," Harper said.
With Harper at the helm, the Toppers have rattled off six straight, capturing the Sun Belt Conference Tournament crown and a chance in the big dance.
"Even with a new coach, we all came together with our senior in the middle of the season,” George Fant, WKU Freshman, said. “We had a lot of games left. He said to keep our heads high and not to look back."
And they haven't. Their attention now focused on Mississippi Valley State, if there's any team that knows about the survive and advance mentality of March it's Western.