TSU takes on big bad Bears

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 5, 2000

Sports Editor

With a three game winning streak under their belt the Troy State Trojans’ men’s basketball team will attempt to make it four in a row this Saturday at noon against Mercer University.

The game will be televised live by FOX Sports Southeast from Trojan Arena and was originally scheduled to tipoff at night, but was moved to accomodate the FOX broadcast.

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A win over Mercer would also even Coach Don Maestri’s team up in Trans America Athletic Conference play. Troy State (5-7, 1-2) won their first TAAC game of the year on Tuesday night, beating Central Florida 79-64.

"Our kids are starting to find out how to play the game of basketball a bit better, but we still have a long way to go," said Maestri, following the Trojans win over the Golden Knights. "We surely needed this win tonight, because it gives us a little more momentum heading into Saturday’s game."

Which is against Mercer, a team that eliminated top-seeded Troy State from the TAAC Tournament last year in the first round, 79-75.

And a team which already has a win over the Auburn Tigers this season.

However, the Bears (5-7, 2-1) enter Troy on the heels of a four game losing streak, which includes a 78-77 loss to Florida Atlantic on Wendnesday.

But that doesn’t mean they’ll be handed their fifth straight loss on Saturday against the Trojans.

"We’re going to be facing the biggest team we will face all year in Mercer," said Maestri. "But the thing is you just can’t concentrate on their size beneath the basket. They have a very balanced offensive attack and get excellent play out of their guards."The Bears posses three quality seniors in a backcourt, which includes point guard Korey McCray, Rodney Kirtz and Chris Hill. McCray is a four-year starter at the point under head coach Mark Slonaker and Kirtz started the final 19 games of the year for Mercer, averaging 10.2 points per game.

And then there’s the Bears’ frontcourt. That’s where Troy State’s problems begin.

First is the return of Second Team All-Conference selection Scott Emerson (6-9) at forward,

a player that led the Bears in virtually every offensive category last season. Justin Howard, 6-10, 285 pound center, provides even more size in the middle for Mercer.

"There’s going to be some real size in this game," said Maestri. "That’s how they (Mercer) were able to beat Auburn. They outmanned Auburn inside, outrebounded and outscored them. This will be a great match-up between our two schools and I think our kids are looking forward to it."

A win on Saturday will also be the 800th win recorded by the Troy State basketball program.

Following the men’s game, the Troy State Lady Trojans will take the court at 3 p.m. for the second game of a double header. Troy State will play TAAC foe Jacksonville State.