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Brantley’s Person commits to Troy

Wesley Person, Jr., one of the most sought-after players in the state of Alabama, plans to further his basketball career at Troy.

Late Thursday night Person tweeted from his personal Twitter account (@tattperson) that he “Just committed to Troy.” Person, a star at Brantley High School in Crenshaw County, averaged over 32 points, eight rebounds and two steals per game during his senior year with the Bulldogs. Person netted a career-high 55 points in a season-ending loss to Sunshine in the Regional Final in 2014.

In 2013, he led Brantley to the 1A state championship game. Along the way, he collected 21 and five boards per game.

Person had offers from Troy, UAB, Western Carolina and Mercer, and many thought he was waiting to see if an offer came from new Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl. Person’s father, Wesley Sr., was a star for the Tigers in the early 1990s.

A guard by trade, Person could be in the mix for playing time early in his Troy career. Troy head coach Phil Cunningham and staff will have to fill a large void left by the graduation of seniors Hunter Williams, Jeff Mullahey and Antoine “Fresh” Myers.

Minutes after announcing his decision via social media, Person’s Twitter feed was covered in well wishes from fans around the state.

 


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Put on hold

Put on hold

Antoine Myers scored 21 points in Thursday's loss to Texas-Arlington. (Photo/Troy Athletics)
Antoine Myers scored 21 points in Thursday’s loss to Texas-Arlington. (Photo/Troy Athletics)

Troy’s Sun Belt tourney clinch hopes dashed by Texas-Arlington in double overtime

Troy entered Thursday’s game against Texas-Arlington with visions of beads, Bourbon Street and post-season basketball, however the Trojans’ tourney aspirations were put on ice for at least 48 hours.

Texas-Arlington, led by Brandon Edwards 33 points and 19 rebounds, survived a double-overtime marathon to win 87-86 Thursday night at Trojan Arena.

The Mavericks and Trojans traded the lead all night, but UTA went ahead for good on a Reger Dowell three pointer with 1:19 to go in the second overtime period.

Troy pulled back within one with a free throw from Jeff Mullahey on the next possession, but Dowell would answer the call one more time.

Dowell pulled up and nailed a jump shot with 47 seconds to go to give the Mavs a three-point lead.

A Troy miss and Arlington rebound turned the game in to a free-throw contest, with Troy coming up on the short end of the stick down the stretch.

“It’s a hard one to swallow,” said Troy head coach Phil Cunningham. “I know every coach is saying it, but those guys deserve to be in New Orleans. We had our chance to get there tonight, and we didn’t finish it off.”

Troy led 49-44 with 14:13 to go in the second half, but saw Texas-Arlington rip off 19 straight points over the next eight-plus minutes to take the lead.

However, the Trojans would claw their way back in the ball game down the stretch.

Antoine Myers dropped 11 points, all on free throws or drives to the basket, over the next four minutes to tie the game at 67.

Cunningham didn’t tell Myers to take over the game. It just came naturally.

“We were just shooting too many jump shots,” said Myers. “I just figured I needed to get in there and create shot for myself and my teammates. It just came down to where I was creating shots for myself.”

Hunter Williams led Troy with 25 points. Myers scored 21 and Tevin Calhoun dropped in 17.

Josh Warren grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds.

Despite the loss, Cunningham liked the grit and toughness he saw from his team during the second-half run.

“Our guys fought back and they never gave up,” said Cunningham. “I think everyone in the arena gave up on them, and I don’t blame a fan if he or she did give up on them, but they refused to give up. That has to carry us over to Saturday night.”

Losses by both Troy and Texas State on Saturday sets up a winner-take-all game for the No. 8 seed in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.

Texas State beat Troy 73-65 earlier this season in San Marcos, Texas.

The Trojans and Bobcats are set for a 7:30 tip from Trojan Arena on Saturday.

Williams firmly believes he and his teammates are ready for Saturday’s must-win contest.

“In conference, games come pretty fast and you have to move on to the next one,” said Williams. “I know everyone in the locker room is focused for the next game. They know what we have to do. We are ready.”

 


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Troy falls to Louisiana-Monroe in bid for third-consecutive win

Troy saw its bid for three-straight Sun Belt wins fall victim to a hot shooting Louisiana-Monroe team Thursday night at Trojan Arena.

ULM went 9-for-14 from behind the arc to drop the Trojans 75-64.

Troy head coach Phil Cunningham said it is not fun to watch when the other team is the one draining three.

“It’s demoralizing when a team shoots it like that,” Cunningham said. “We saw the flip side of it last week. We knocked down big shots. Thy ha some guys that hadn’t been making threes, make some tonight.”

ULM outscored the Trojans 41-30 in the second half, and took the lead for good on a layup by Tylor Ongwae with 15:05 to play in the second half.

Troy and ULM traded the lead for much of the first half, before settling for a 34-34 tie heading to the locker room. The hot shooting from both team drew memories of the Sartain Hall days, with the Trojans and Warhawks combining to drain nine three pointers in the first 20 minutes of play.

While Troy’s three point shooting cooled off some in the second half, ULM stayed hot. The Warhawks came in to the game shooting just over 30 percent from the behind the arc.

Troy guard Hunter Williams, who finished with 16 points, said the Trojans just forced shots down the stretch.

“We got down and started forcing it a little,” said Williams. “We tried to get it back in one possession instead of just chipping away at a lead. Down the stretch, they hit shots and didn’t.

Cunningham pointed to a particular moment in the second half when the Warhawks took over.

“When the game was on the line in the second half, at about the eight to 10 minute mark, they kind of stepped up and took over,” Cunningham said. “The stepped forward and made the plays and we didn’t.”

Troy falls to 7-10, 2-3 in Sun Belt play. The Trojans host UL-Lafayette on Saturday at Trojan Arena. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

 


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Troy falls to WKU at home

The Troy Trojans were unable to convert on several second-half opportunities, and fell to Western Kentucky 60-51 Saturday at Trojan Arena.

Troy cut the Hilltopper lead to six with 31 seconds to go, following a rally that saw the Trojans chip away at 16-point second-half deficit. Troy would then steal the inbounds pass, but Kelton Ford couldn’t get a lay up to fall.

Western’s Trency Jackson pulled down the rebound and Troy never got closer.

Troy head coach Phil Cunningham, a former assistant for the Hilltoppers, said his team was in the game until the ‘Toppers went on a run early in the second half.

“I felt like the game got away from us early in the second half,” Cunningham said. “Up until that point, we had gone toe-to-toe with them. We matched their toughness early, but they hit us in the mouth there early, and we didn’t respond well.”

Troy opened the game missing its first 13 shots from the floor while Western Kentucky built an early 9-0 lead. The Trojans would scratch away at the lead the rest of the first half, and go to the lockerrom down 21-17.

Troy didn’t get on the board until Antione “Fresh” Myers hit a layup with 13:29 to go in the first half.

“We were just rushing our shots,” said Troy forward Tevin Calhoun. “I think a lot of us were trying initiate the contact, and we were just not getting the whistle. But that is no excuse, we still have to finish.”

Calhoun’s teammate agreed.

“I think there was a lid on it to start the game,” said Troy guard Jeff Mullahey. “Everything was just going in and out. I can’t really explain that. “

With the loss, Troy falls to 5-9 overall, and 0-2 in Sun Belt play.

Despite the rough start to conference play, Cunningham and staff aren’t panicking yet.

“We have played two of the best teams in the league right off the bat,” Cunningham said. “Hopefully the schedule will come back around some, but it won’t get any easier this week. We just have to keep working. It is a one-day process for us right now.”

Troy returns to action on Thursday at Arkansas State in Jonesboro.

 


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Troy knocks off Alcorn State in 2OTs

All five Troy starters scored in double figures, and Troy needed every bit of those points to escape with a win Monday night at Trojan Arena.

Troy knocked off Alcorn State 73-70 in double overtime Monday night to even its record at 3-3.

“It wasn’t the prettiest win, but it was a win,” said Troy head coach Phil Cunningham. “Right now, for our guys, we needed a win. We needed to have a good feeling when we left the locker room, and it doesn’t matter how pretty it is. If you leave that locker room with a win, you feel good about yourself.”

Wes Hinton tipped in a missed lay in from Kevin Thomas with just four seconds left to send the game to the first overtime. Troy had to once again scratch its way back in late in the first overtime.

The Trojans trailed by five points with 2:17 to play, but hit five-of-six from the free throw line down the stretch to send the game to a second extra period.

Antoine “Fresh” Myers, who led all scorers with 19 points, said Cunningham and staff emphasize free throws.

“I’m just going to say ‘16s in practice’,” Myers said. “We run lines whenever we miss.”

Troy shot 82 percent from the charity stripe in the game.

Myers led Troy with 18 points. Hinton and Thomas added 15 each, while J.C. Bonny dropped in 12 and Hunter Williams scored 10.

Hinton said he “didn’t want to lose,” and “tried his hardest to go get it” on the final play of regulation to give Troy the tie.

The win was Troy’s first double overtime game since falling to Utah Valley 86-82 last season at home.

Myers said he remembered the loss last season, but was quickly gone.

“That game kind of popped in my head when we went to double overtime,” Myers said. “I wasn’t about to go home with another loss like that.”

Troy hit just three of 23 attempted three pointers, their lowest margin of the season.

With the win the Trojans move to 3-3, and prepare for in-state rival Alabama State on Saturday.

Troy split with the Hornets last season, winning at 66-62 and losing on the road 74-68.

“The lost last Tuesday (on the road at Central Arkansas) hurt our confidence,” Cunningham said. “We needed to bounce back and get a win. Basketball is a game where confidence is big. We were beat there late, and pulled out a win.”

The Trojans and Hornets are set for a 1 p.m. tip Saturday at Trojan Arena.

 


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Mullahey’s career night lifts Troy past Nicholls State

Troy picked up its second win of the season Tuesday night at Trojan Arena with a 77-62 win over the Nicholls Colonels.

The Trojans were led on offense by Jeff Mullahey who finished the night with career high 19 points and 4 rebounds. Tevin Calhoun added 12 points and J.C. Bonny scored 11.

Troy head coach Phil Cunningham said his players did a good job executing the gameplan of driving to the hole and drawing fouls.

“North Texas had them (Nicholls) in the bonus five minutes in to the game,” Cunningham said. “Our plan was to drive the ball because they play a really aggressive style of defense. They are aggressive on ball screens, so our plan was to attack and get to the foul line.”

The Trojans led 40-31 at half, despite attempting only 19 shots from the floor. In the first stanza, the Trojans went 18-for-21 from the free throw line. Late in the first half, Troy went over three minutes without a made shot from the field, but solid work at the charity stripe kept them out front.

Mullahey didn’t attempt a shot from the field in the first half, but hit all six of his free throw attempts. In the second half, Mullahey went 4-for-9 from the floor, including two three pointers.

Mullahey was a little taken back with his career night.

“It surprised me a little tonight as well,” Mullahey said. “I got a couple of open threes, and made a bunch of free throws. With these new rules they call more fouls, so I got a couple of touch fouls. I think one of them was in the back court, but I will take it.”

Troy moves to 2-2 on the season, and are perfect at home under first-year head coach Phil Cunningham. The Trojans travel to Central Arkansas Nov. 26.

Cunningham said the win over the Colonels is a big one for the program.

“Coach (Marcus) Grant and I have been together for a long time at Mississippi State , and have seen Nichols State several times in the past,” Cunningham said. “Our players may not understand and the fans may not understand it, but that was a really good win. Even if it wasn’t a pretty win.”


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Trojan men defeat LaGrange in home opener

Troy picked up its first win of the season Monday night dusting off LaGrange 102-69 at Trojan Arena.

Hunter Williams dropped a career-high 26 points, and Antoine “Fresh” Myers added 20 as the Trojans cruised to the lop-sided win

“Those guys are both really good leaders, and really good offensive players,” said first-year Troy head coach Phil Cunningham. “They are different. Hunt is a shooter than can create and score off the dribble some, and Fresh is as unique of a player that I have ever been around. He just gets in there, and finds a way to get that ball in the hole.”

Troy took the lead for good within the first minute of the game, and never looked back.

Cunningham said he and his staff wanted to schedule a “game where we had a good chance to win,” between the opener at Ole Miss and the trip to UAB.

The win over LaGrange was just they wanted.

“Those two games (Ole Miss and UAB) are two of tougher games of our non-conference schedule,” said Cunningham. “A win is good, and we will take it.”

The win is Cunningham’s first as Troy head coach, but said he hasn’t had time to think about historic moments.

“We are already thinking about UAB,” Cunningham said. “In this sport man, they come so fast and furious, that you don’t have much time to think about that one before. You just have to keep moving.”

Troy travels to in-state rival UAB Thursday night.

The Trojans have never beaten the Blazers, 0-6 all time, and were routed at home last season 75-55.

Cunningham said the UAB prep begins immediately for the players.

“They have to get their rest and eat right over the next few days,” Cunningham said. “They can’t be texting and tweeting until four o’clock in the morning. We play UAB in less than 72 hours, and we have to be ready.”

Tip off for the seventh all time meeting between the Trojans and Blazers is set for a 7 p.m. Thursday tip at historic Bartow Arena in Birmingham.

 


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Troy rolls past Victory University in pre-season exhibition

The new era of Troy basketball was on full display Tuesday night as the Trojans used a big second half to cruise to a 105-68 win over Victory University in an exhibition game.

Troy outscored the Eagles 52-29 in the second half and coasted to a 37-point win.

Troy head coach Phil Cunningham said his players were excited to play against someone other than their teammates.

“It was good because we finally got to play against somebody else,” Cunningham said. “We have been practicing for at least five weeks. They are kind of burn out on playing each other, so it was good to get out there against somebody else.”

Senior point guard Hunter Williams led the for the Troy offense, going 9-for-19 from the floor and finishing with 23 points.

Williams, a point guard, doesn’t normally score that much, but he said he wants to make the most of the opportunities in certain sets.

“I’m not really focused on scoring necessarily,” Williams said. “I am looking to get teammates involved, but in certain circumstances I get to play off the ball when Antoine (Myers) has it. When I am in that position, the coaches tell me to look to shoot. That’s what I did.”

Every player that dressed for the Trojans got playing time Tuesday night, and every player contributed with points. Freshman bench players Hobie Hughes and Jordan Howard only played two minutes, but still got in on the scoring action late.

“I don’t know if I would call it a deep bench,” Cunningham said. “The problem is that we dressed 12 guys tonight. We have got an injury to DJ (Deonata Jethroe), and to a couple of other guys that have to sit out all year. One of our main concerns is depth, especially on the perimeter.”

Tevin Calhoun also had a big night for the Trojans. Calhoun notched a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Troy will have a few days off before making the trip to Oxford, Mississippi to meet the defending SEC champion Ole Miss Rebels in the season opener for both teams.

The Trojans played their exhibition game earlier than most teams, and Cunningham feels that his group has time to get better before the opener on November 8.

“We got the exhibition out of the way early, and now we have a good space in between the exhibition and our opener with Ole Miss,” said Cunningham. “We wanted to set it early to give us time to prepare for Ole Miss and be as prepared as possible going in to that game.”


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Cunningham rounds out staff

Troy head basketball coach Phil Cunningham wants to put some energy into the program, and has completed a coaching staff that he feels can do just that.

Earlier this week Cunningham announced the hiring of three members of his program to round out his staff. Billy Begley will be an assistant coach, Mike Worley will be the director of operations and Michael Moynihan will handle the video coordinator role.

Begley joins Cunningham’s staff as an assistant coach, a position he held at East Mississippi Community College for the previous three seasons. Before getting in to coaching, Begley was a three-time team captain for Mississippi State, a four-time Academic All-SEC selection and was also a member of the 2007-08 SEC Good Works Team.

“He was captain at Mississippi State for a couple of years, and that says a lot about him and what kind of leadership he possesses,” Cunningham said. “He worked with me as a student assistant, and I noticed how hard he worked every day and wanted to get better. Everywhere he has been, he has been part of winning programs.”

Worley comes to Troy after spending the last three seasons as an assistant coach at Kilgore College in Kilgore, Texas. Last season, the Rangers went 27-5 and earned an at-large berth into the NJCAA National Tournament. Kilgore advanced to the tournament’s second round and finished the season ranked 15th in the NJCAA Top 25 Poll.

Cunningham believes that Worley brings more than a winning reputation with him to Troy.

“Mike is a Christian guy, and I always like to have that influence on my team,” said Cunningham. “He has a strong character and morals, as well as having a great basketball mind.”

Moynihan, the grandson of Cunningham’s mentor Lefty Driesell, spent last season as an assistant coach at Division II Young Harris College in Young Harris, Ga. The Mountain Lions went 17-9 in 2012-13, their first season in the Peach Belt Conference and Moynihan’s only season with the team.

The youth of Moynihan, combined with his knowledge of the game is a win/win situation for Troy, Cunningham feels.

“He is a young guy that really wants to make it in this business,” said Cunningham. “He has a fire that is going to be a great asset to our team. He also spent a year learning from Pete Herbert, who I feel is one of the best coaches in the nation.”

The three hires complete Cunningham’s staff, which saw the hiring of Marcus Grant and the retaining of Ben Fletcher earlier this year.

 


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Troy basketball lands high-profile recruit

The Troy mens’ basketball team landed a marquee forward today with the addition of forward Kevin Thomas.

Thomas (6-9, 205) was a highly-touted recruit from Ontario, Canada and signed with Texas out of high school but failed to qualify. After spending the past two seasons at Palm Beach State, Thomas will wear cardinal and black.

Last season Thomas averaged 9.1 and 9 rebounds per game. He ranked 20th in the National Junior College Athletic Association with 113 offensive rebounds and was 28th in total rebounds with 279.

The 3-star recruit played high school basketball at Christian Faith Center Academy (N.C.) along with Grassroots Canada AAU team. He committed to Texas over offers from Georgetown, North Carolina State, Marquette, Arkansas among others.

On May 16, Canadian scout Tariq Sbiet (@Tariq_NPH) sent out a tweet saying Thomas had narrowed his list to Troy, Western Kentucky, St. Bonaventure and North Texas. HERE is a nice write up with quotes by Adam Haley at TopperTalk.com

Thomas joins Miguel Dicent Guante and Jaroslav Moravek as newcomers to the Troy program under new coach Phil Cunningham.

Here are a few links to stories on Thomas:

ESPN – Kevin Thomas latest Canadian to Texas

GopherHole.com – JUCO forward Kevin Thomas and Palm Beach State excelling

SBNation – Kevin Thomas fails to qualify