TAMPA, Fla. -- The pregame routine had gone so smoothly Sunday for No. 12 seed Western Kentucky. Sophomore forward
"Then I noticed an usher, and it looked like maybe he didn't want to let [Walker] down," Horn said. "I was going to end up with another mark on my face if he didn't let my son down to give me my good-luck knuckles."
The usher relented, avoiding a with-extreme-prejudice knuckle collision in favor of a more playful one. His knuckles wrapped, Horn retreated to the bench. There, he helped his Hilltoppers to a 72-63 win that made these Hilltoppers the first Western Kentucky team since 1993 -- when Horn was a sophomore guard -- to reach the Sweet 16.
This time, the Hilltoppers didn't need a miracle shot.
The Hilltoppers built a double-digit lead shortly before halftime, and it seemed they might blow the Toreros out of the gym before they hit a cold spell midway through the second. Western Kentucky missed five consecutive shots and committed three turnovers as its side of the scoreboard remained stuck on 54. Clinging to a two-point lead after a
The next shot came from a player who, in the summer of 2004, never thought he'd still be wearing a Western Kentucky uniform. Three days after his arrival in Bowling Green, Ky., Lee decided he wanted to go home to Indiana. He would transfer to Butler or to Purdue. He repeatedly called his mother to tell her he was coming home.
"I called her for two days in a row," Lee said. "Then she started hanging up on me." Horn also had no intention of losing Lee. "Did I talk to him? I locked him in his room," Horn said. "We weren't going to let him go home."
But even as Western Kentucky pulled away, school president
The Hilltoppers were missing one fan Sunday.
A few rows down from Ransdell, Brazelton's father,
"We had a lot of family here, and [Walker] wasn't with mom, which is the protocol. It's just like making game adjustments," Horn said. "We'll get that corrected."