Sam Houston vs. Western Kentucky Prediction, Odds and Key Players for Thursday, Feb. 1 (Take the under)

College basketball betting preview, prediction and best bet for Sam Houston-Western Kentucky. 

Dec 22, 2022; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers guard Dontaie Allen (11),
Dec 22, 2022; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers guard Dontaie Allen (11), / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

In the first year of the Chris Mudge era, Sam Houston State is searching for its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010. The Bearkats are at the top of the Conference USA standings after winning five of its first six games in league play. They’ll take to the road Thursday night to face a Western Kentucky team they beat in a close contest less than a month ago. 

Western Kentucky has lost three of five but is coming off its best offensive performance of the year, scoring a season-high 105 points in a double-digit victory over Florida International. Will the Hilltoppers defend their home court as short favorites Thursday when Sam Houston State comes to town?

Here’s the betting preview of Thursday’s matchup with a best bet. 

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Sam Houston vs. Western Kentucky odds, spread and total

Sam Houston vs. Western Kentucky betting trends

  • Sam Houston is 9-9-1 ATS this season
  • Western Kentucky is 10-7 ATS this season
  • Sam Houston is 3-5 ATS as an underdog this season
  • Western Kentucky is 5-4 ATS as a favorite this season
  • The OVER is 11-8 in Sam Houston games this season
  • The OVER is 7-10 in Western Kentucky games this season

Sam Houston vs. Western Kentucky how to watch

  • Date: Thursday, Feb. 1
  • Game time: 9 p.m. EST
  • Venue: Diddle Arena
  • How to watch (TV): CBS Sports Network
  • Sam Houston record: 12-9 (5-1 Conference USA)
  • Western Kentucky record: 14-6 (3-3 Conference USA)

Sam Houston vs. Western Kentucky key players to watch

Sam Houston

Lamar Wilkerson: The 6-foot-4 junior guard leads the Bearkats in scoring at 15 points per game and has scored 20-plus in four of the last contests. Wilkerson had 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting in Sam Houston’s 78-74 win over Western Kentucky Jan. 10, but has struggled in recent action from beyond the arc. He’s gone just 3-of-14 from 3-point range over the last three games. 

Western Kentucky

Dontaie Allen: The University of Kentucky transfer is in his second season with the Hilltoppers and is averaging just 8.2 points per game. Allen is coming off his best performance in a Western Kentucky uniform, though, scoring a season-high 30 points on 9-of-11 shooting (hitting five 3-pointers) in the win over Florida International. Allen had scored 20 points combined in the previous four games. 

Sam Houston vs. Western Kentucky prediction and pick

Can Western Kentucky get revenge? 

The Hilltoppers play at the No. 1 tempo in the nation, according to KenPom, but it hasn’t translated into offensive efficiency, where they rank just No. 237. Western Kentucky’s defense is No. 98 in the nation, per KenPom, but is giving up 75.1 points per game, the second-worst mark in Conference USA. They’ll face a Sam Houston offense that is No. 225 in efficiency and ranks No. 248 in 3-point shooting and No. 339 in shots from inside the arc. 

Sam Houston’s defense is average with the No. 153 overall ranking in the nation. The Bearkats make up for poor defense at the rim with its ability to create turnovers (No. 62), which could be a key in this matchup as Western Kentucky ranks No. 292 in turnover percentage. 

Western Kentucky’s up-tempo style of play hasn’t produced points, but its defense should be able to limit Sam Houston’s sub-par offense from getting looks around the rim. Western Kentucky is No. 55 in the nation defending the perimeter and No. 108 from 2-point range. Defenses are the strength of this matchup – take the under with an inflated total.

Game odds update periodically and are subject to change