Troy State stands alone atop TAAC
Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 16, 2000
after 74-70 victory over Gamecocks
By STEVEN G. WATSON
The Troy State Trojans proved something Saturday night that most of the players on the team seem to have known long before the season even started – they’re the team to beat in the TAAC.
After a 74-70 win over arch-rival Jacksonville State Saturday not many can argue with the Trojans. In three days TSU has beaten Samford and JSU and now stand atop the TAAC with a 10-5 overall record and a 6-0 showing in conference.
"We felt like we could be here," TSU forward Eugene Christopher said. "After being around these guys this summer and seeing how we came together I had a real good feeling we would be in this spot right now."
"To be honest, before this season started I expected it to be this way," senior guard Detric Golden who transferred from Memphis this year said. "I’m just really happy for the guys who played last year. They only won nine games and I’m glad I can come in here and help turn a good program around."
The game against JSU was made up of two completely different halves, with Jacksonville State dominating the boards in the first half and taking a 37-31. lead to the locker room.
The Gamecocks’ big 6-foot-10 center Brant Harriman blew up in the first half. He battled inside against the smaller Troy State players mopping up JSU missed shots, scoring putbacks or at the foul line. He had 18 points and an amazing nine rebounds in the first half.
Off the bench Tim Lindsey put an exclamation point on things for the Gamecocks as he heaved a 3-pointer from just inside half-court range that fell as the buzzer sounded for the half. Things would change quickly for the Trojans in the after the break, however.
"We felt that we were getting beat on the rebounds," Eugene Christopher said after the game. "When we got into the locker room coach (Don) Maestri told us to crash the boards because that’s where we were getting beat at. We felt if we could get the rebounds that we could win."
TSU was out-rebounded 27 to 12 in the first half, but fought back with a fever in the second notching 22 to JSU’s 15.
They also limited the Gamecocks’ big man, as Harriman could only muster two boards in the second half and hit for only five points finishing with a game-high 23.
While the Trojans battled on the boards they were also sinking their shots from the perimeter in the second.
Five minutes into the half TSU went on a 12-0 run to go up by 10 and began to slow down the offense and milk the clock, much like they had done against Samford on Thursday.
The ploy worked as JSU was able to cut the lead to only three on a short run with under three minutes to go, but Christopher came up big from the right side nailing a 3-pointer which Golden followed with a crucial jumper in the lane to extend the lead back out to eight with under a minute to go.
The Gamecocks hit three treys in the final minute, but the Trojans hit their free throws to hold off their arch-rivals and take over the top spot in the TAAC.
Next up for Troy State is a 7:30 p.m. contest as they host Georgia State Thursday.