Troy State now turns attention to Samford

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 30, 2001

Sports Editor

Give Troy State head coach Don Maestri credit.

Maestri avoided talk about the Trojans’ upcoming game with Samford, until Thursday night’s game with Jacksonville State was over, preferring to keep his, and the team’s, focus entirely on the Gamecocks.

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Troy State (3-1) will entertain the Bulldogs on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Trojan Arena. It will be the second consecutive Atlantic Sun contest for both schools.

Samford played league opponent Mercer on Thursday night.

"It’s another game against an instate school, as well as an Atlantic Sun opponent, so that makes it a big game for us," said Maestri.

Samford has been somewhat of a surprise team early in the season, getting pounded by Alabama and falling to Georgia 61-55, but beating Loyola-Marymount 72-60 in its first game and handing Louisiana-Monroe a 62-53 defeat on the road.

It was the Bulldogs’ win over Louisiana-Monroe which caught the Atlantic Sun by surprise, according to Maestri.

"That win right there surprised everyone," said Maestri. "It caught everyone’s attention, because Louisiana-Monroe has five starters returning this year. Samford is a team made up of basically sophomores and freshmen."

Plus, the Indians were never in the ball game.

Samford jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the first seven minutes of the game and ran that lead to 36-19 at the half.

The Bulldogs have only two seniors on this year’s 13-man roster and one junior in Cornell Felton. Chris Weaver and Corey Green are the lone seniors.

"They (SU) are playing really well and I feel Weaver and Green are two of the top players in this league," said Maestri.

Last season, the Trojans split a pair of games with the Bulldogs. In Birmingham, Samford handed TSU one of its worst defeats ever, 94-47.

Led by Robert Rushing’s 20 points, Troy State won the second contest in overtime, 77-75.

The Trojans will next play at Utah on Dec. 8.