Troy State Romps
Mercer (9-4, 4-1) entered Friday night's game in sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Sun South Division.
The Bears left the game in a two-way tie.
Lacedrick Pettway scored a career-high 19 points and hit a career-high five three-pointers as the Trojans (13-4, 4-1) sent the Bears back into hibernation with an 89-61 win. Ben Fletcher also hit five treys to lead all scorers with 21 points.
The Trojan press forced 23 Mercer turnovers, leading to 17 fast break points. Troy State scored 37 points off turnovers in the route.
"Coach told us we weren't playing defense right," Pettway said. "He challenged us to come out tonight and perform better."
Troy State played its first game since a 76-61 loss to Central Florida Jan. 11. That loss came in the Trojans' fourth game in eight days.
Friday night, the Trojans came in rested and ready.
"I gave them two days off after the Central Florida game," Troy State head coach Don Maestri said. "When we came back, we had an easy practice and then I ran them hard Wednesday. We only went 45 minutes (Thursday). The one thing we weren't going to be tonight was tired."
Troy State responded to the rest. Instead of the slow starts that have plagued the Trojans in conference games so far, Troy State began the game on a run.
Fletcher hit two three-pointers in the first 30 seconds. Troy State won the tip to set up his first three, then stole the ball on Mercer's first possession to set up his second.
Troy State led 11-2 when the first media timeout was called.
"The fast start was important," Maestri said. "It got our fans in the game and gave our kids some confidence."
The 3,400 fans in attendance had plenty of reasons to cheer Friday night. Troy State came into the game 10th in the Atlantic Sun in three-point field goal percentage, but will climb the ladder now.
The Trojans shot 52 percent from three-point land Friday, but blistered the nets in the first half. They attempted 13 three-pointers and hit 10 as they blew away the Bears in the first half, taking a 52-23 lead into the break. They connected on 15 in the game.
Pettway hit two in the first half, Greg Davis hit one, Eddie Baker hit one, Fletcher hit five and Kendrick Johnson hit two, the second of which sliced the nets at the buzzer in the first half.
"I don't know if we can shoot any better than we did tonight," Maestri said.
"We knew we had to shoot the ball well to beat Mercer, because Mercer's a good team."
Troy State and Mercer are 4-1 in the Atlantic Sun South Division and Central Florida is a half game back at 3-1.
Troy State will have seven days to practice or rest before its next game. Troy State will face Belmont Friday in Nashville, Tenn. The game will air on CSS as the Atlantic Sun Game of the Week.
The Trojans then have a Sunday matinee home battle with Samford starting at 3 p.m.