Troy has hoops doubleheader on Saturday night
There is no time to wallow for Troy University's men's basketball team.
The Trojans were blown out at Arkansas State on Wednesday night. Troy suffered through a nightmarish first half that was on pace to set school records for futility.
Troy trailed 50-17 at halftime. That 33-point margin threatened the program's worst loss - 137-70 against Arkansas in 1996. It was well behind the pace for fewest points in a game - 39, against Mississippi College in 1965.
To their credit, the Trojans (10-10, 3-5 Sun Belt) played hard in the second half. In fact, they got the deficit under 20 points with less than nine minutes remaining. But it was a hole too deep to escape.
&uot;We just didn't play well,&uot; head coach Don Maestri said. &uot;We haven't shot the ball well. In the first half Wednesday we were 6 for 38 - 15 percent. We were 3 for 21 on three-pointers. We're just in a stretch where we're not playing good ball.&uot;
Three straight road games in the Sun Belt Conference will do that.
&uot;As much as I've love to work their fannies off today, I think that would about break them,&uot; Maestri said. &uot;We're very tired physically. Now, we don't talk about that because I don't want to give them an excuse to not play well. But the reality is we're fatigued.&uot;
The Trojans have played six of their eight league games on the road. They are 1-5. But the second half of the league season is almost exclusively at Trojan Arena, which has been a fortress for Troy.
The Trojans took a lot of momentum into that road swing, buoyed by a sweep of Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee.
But that momentum couldn't be packed into suitcases.
The Trojans finally return home Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. for a Sun Belt game against Arkansas-Little Rock, which is also nicknamed the Trojans. UALR was 11-8 overall, 4-3 in the Sun Belt before last night's game at South Alabama.
&uot;This team is the most hard-nosed defensive team in the league,&uot; Maestri said of UALR. &uot;They play good man-to-man defense. They put a lot of pressure on you. They're very physical.&uot;
And they are huge. Rashad Jones-Jennings is a 6-8, 235-pound player who leads Little Rock in scoring (12.6 ppg) and rebounding (11.9 rpg). Lekheythan Malone is a 6-6, 200-pounder averaging almost 11 points per game. And Byron Ray is 6-7, 250. Sixth man Brandon Nichols is 6-3, 230.
&uot;They're big men can move, too,&uot; Maestri said. &uot;This is a tough, physical opponent. They lost by 5 (72-67) at Michigan State and beat Bowling Green, which beat us here.&uot;
Maestri said UALR's guards are both 6-2. Zack Wright is a &uot;slasher&uot; who penetrates and dishes. Elijah Muldrow is a three-point threat.
That's plenty to prepare for. But Maestri said the Trojans need to get some momentum going to reverse the slide.
&uot;We're going to be in a game Saturday that's going to be one of those grind-it-out games,&uot; Maestri said. &uot;Little Rock does a good job controlling tempo. They don't want an up-and-down game. We just need to shoot better. Hopefully, being at home makes a difference.&uot;
Home is a good place to start. Only seven games remain in the regular season. Six of those will be at Trojan Arena - including the next four.
Saturday's game is the second game of a doubleheader.
The Troy women play Arkansas State at 5:15 p.m., followed by the Troy vs. UALR men's game.