Wilson looks forward to first place battle

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 27, 2002

Sports Editor

No surprises.

That’s all Troy State starting forward Lemayn Wilson has to say.

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The Trojans entertained an A-Sun low tier Stetson Hatters basketball team on Saturday night in Trojan Arena and by the grace of whatever hoops gods resides in Sartain Hall, somehow managed to pull out a 68-65 victory.

Grace and a few timely baskets from Wilson and company.

"Every night we know it’s going to be a different game," said Wilson. "We just prepare ourselves to come out, do our job and handle our business."

But for awhile the Trojans’ business wasn’t doing to well.

The Hatters came out of the gate on fire early. Ricky McConnell opened with a three-point play and then followed that by hitting a shot from behind the arc. Seven straight points followed after that and suddenly Troy State was staring at a 13-0 deficit on the scoreboard.

"They came out quick," Wilson said. "We were playing sluggish and they came ready to play. Coach (Don Maestri) got us into a timeout and got our heads together."

However, even though the Trojans fought back to make a game of it, the Hatters still wouldn’t fold. Marcus Millhouse’s dunk put Troy State on top for the first time, 24-22, with 8:19 left in the first half. But with two minutes left to go, Stetson put together an 8-0 run and went into the locker room up 38-30.

But this was the same Stetson team that came into the game with a 4-7 conference mark (7-10 overall), good enough for eighth place in a league of 11 teams. And this was the same Hatters’ squad that Troy State basically demoralized in Deland, Fla., about a week ago, 94-68.

So again, was Wilson surprised?

In a word: no.

"In the first game they were playing kind of sluggish so we took advantage of that," he said. "we knew they were going to come in and play us tougher this time."

Maestri agreed.

"They (Stetson) did a good job defending us, a good job on offense and they kept the game close with a chance to win it at the end," he said. "But thank goodness we made the plays down the stretch."

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Atlantic Sun basketball 2002, where a two-game winning streak can do wonders for a team’s confidence level as was the case on Saturday with Stetson. Prior to the first game between the two programs, the Hatters had won just one game in their previous six outings. The result was a Troy State shootaround.

Stetson then followed that loss by beating

Mercer (76-71) and Jacksonville State (68-58).

And on Saturday they came close to beating the Trojans.

"They have a talented basketball team," said Maestri. "But everybody in this league does. I know it sounds like the same old song and dance every night, but it isn’t and all the coaches (in the league) are singing the same song."

"We’ve got a tough conference and we know that every game is not going to be easy," added Wilson. "We just have to come out and play 110 percent every game. If we do that, we’ll come out victorious."

Wilson finished the game with 19 points and 10 rebounds. He had 19 points the last time out against Stetson before falling into a two-game

shooting slump. The 6-foot-8 senior from Highland Home had just four points in the following game, a 74-71 loss to league-leader Jacksonville, and nine in a win at home over Mercer last Wednesday.

"Teams have been triple-teaming and double-teaming me and that’s been slowing my game down," he said. "They (Stetson) took me out of my game a little bit, but Coach just told me to be patient. He knows I’m a scorer, so I have to go out and score."

Now the Trojans ready themselves for a showdown on Monday night against the aforementioned Dolphins. The winner claims sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Sun.

Wilson is just ready to redeem himself after his poor showing against Jacksonville the last time out.

"It’s going to be a battle," he said.

And that’s all he had to say.