No. 1 spot at stake tonight for Troy State

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 24, 2000

Sports Editor

After tonight things will be a lot clearer as far as Trans America Athletic Conference basketball is concerned as Troy State and Jacksonville State collide in league play.

With only a single game lead on the Gamecocks (16-9 overall, 11-5 in TAAC play) and Georgia State (14-11, 11-5), the Trojans (16-9, 12-4) are in jeopardy of losing the conference lead for the first time this season.

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TSU started out with a six-game winning streak in TAAC play and have never fallen out of the No. 1 spot since. Now with only two games left on this year’s schedule TSU faces what is obviously the toughest test of all those contending for the regular-season TAAC title traveling to battle with JSU tonight and then defending TAAC champions Samford on Saturday.

With Samford’s 71-68 loss Saturday in overtime to Central Florida the field has been narrowed to two in a tie for second place as Georgia State plays host to TAAC cellar dweller Florida Atlantic tonight and Central Florida Saturday. After their matchup with TSU tonight, the Gamecocks will host Mercer.

Still with an outside chance, Samford will be looking for some upsets in those games as they play Mercer tonight and end up against the Trojans.

Troy State had a golden opportunity to make things a lot harder on those nipping at its heals last Saturday, but dropped a heart-breaker on the road to Mercer 69-68. Now only a win in one of their last two games will guarantee the Trojans at least a tie for the No. 1 spot.

Despite the fact that the Gamecocks and Trojans are arch-rivals, the two teams matchup well in every area.

While Troy State is one of the nations’ top 3-point shooting teams, both in baskets made and percentage at 42.3 percent, JSU is tops in the TAAC at 3-point percentage defense at holding opponents to only 31.8 percent.

Both teams average over 70 points a game with TSU hitting for a league high 76.2 a contest and the Gamecocks unloading at 70.4.

Both teams have also seen troubles as of late with Jacksonville State squeaking by both Stetson and lowly Florida Atlantic and losing to Central Florida in its last three games. Troy State has dropped three of its last five to Jacksonville, Stetson and Mercer.

The two teams also are simular in spreading their scoring duties around. The Trojans are led by Detric Golden who hits for 17.6 a contest and dishes out a league-high 6.2 assists a game. The Gamecocks have four players averaging over 11.4 a game, but are also led by their point guard Marion Gurley who is scoring 13.2 per contest.

Also scoring in double figures for TSU is Eugene Christopher and Matt Holman with 12.5 and 12.4 a game respectively to go with Robert Rushing’s 10 points a contest off the bench for the Trojans. JSU also sports four people in double figures with Mike McDaniel scoring 12.1 and Brant Harriman and Rashard Willie both hitting for 11.6 and 11.4 respectively.

Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. for the two rivals and all the action can be heard locally on WAOQ 100.3 FM.

The game will also receive a worldwide broadcast on the Armed Forces Radio Network. It will be broadcast over 400 outlets in 174 countries and territories around the world as well as the U.S. Naval Ships at sea.