Blazers pour it on in second half

Published 7:42 am Sunday, November 16, 2008

All the hype before the game was about shooting guard Robert Vaden, but the combined play of Lawrence Kinnard and Paul Delaney III is what downed the Troy Trojans in their season opener against the UAB Blazers Saturday afternoon.

Troy head coach Don Maestri said he was not surprised with what happened on the court.

“They’ve got five kids that have played some and they are a super experienced basketball team,” Maestri said. “The Delaney kid seems to be back to where he was before he got hurt last year. The kid I liked was Kinnard. He is 6-foot-8-inches, but he is a guard. He is a talented player.”

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Delaney led all players with 24 points and Kinnard added 22 points and 13 rebounds for a double-double.

The Trojans and Blazers were in a tight battle in the first quarter and the Blazers only led 36-34 as the teams entered the locker rooms for halftime, but UAB outscored Troy 51-32 in the second half.

In the first half, Troy guard Travis Lee hit on 3-of-6 three-pointers, but went 0-for-5 in the second half. Lee was not the only Trojan who struggled in the second half, as Troy went 1-for-16 from behind line in the second half.

“We have to knock down our shots and we missed a lot of shots (in the second half) that we should have hit,” Lee said. “We normally make those and we just couldn’t hit them today.”

Lee finished with nine points and five rebounds.

Maestri said the final score was not good for Troy, but there were positives he could take from the game.

“Wasn’t pleased with the outcome, but I was pleased with some of the facets of the game that we did well,” Maestri said. “Our offense worked better tonight than at any time last season to be honest with you.”

UAB jumped out to a 73-51 lead late in the second half and never looked back. Troy cut the lead to 16 a couple of times, but the lead was never in jeopardy after the eight minutes remaining mark.

The Trojans did spread the scoring around in the loss, with Chris Leggett chipping in 12 points off the bench to be the only Trojan in double figures.

“He was a surprise for us,” Maestri said about Leggett. “We weren’t expecting that right off the bat. Some guys when they put the uniform on and they get under the lights, hear the music and smell the popcorn all of a sudden they just play. And Leggett has stepped up and really played well. He has a very good touch and he has a feel for basketball and he sure shows it when the lights come on. I really hope he continues to improve because he can really help our team.”

Maestri was happy with the distribution of the scoring.

“I was proud of how we distributed the ball to the guy that was open,” Maestri said. “For the most part they have learned what we are trying to do. Now when we get a little more fluid with it and the shooters start coming around and feeling more comfortable when they get those open shots then this team will have a chance to be very entertaining. They do spread it around and that is the system.”

Mississippi State transfer Richard Delk was in the starting lineup. Delk was questionable after breaking his right hand in practice earlier this year, but he got in the game and contributed six points, two assists and two rebounds.

His hand was not feeling 100 percent, but Delk is making no excuses.

“My wrist went stiff during the game, but I am making no excuses, so that really didn’t affect me,” Delk said.

The game was actually a bit of a tough one for UAB head coach Mike Davis.

“This was a really difficult game for me because coach Maestri was my coach at Alabama when I played,” Davis said. “He is kind of like a father figure or mentor to me as a coach. Talking to him last night is when I knew it would be a tough situation.”

Davis and the Blazers head back to Birmingham with a win, but they will have to defend their home court Dec. 20, as the Trojans will be looking for revenge.

Up next for Troy is a road game tomorrow at UNC-Wilmington. Tip off is set for 6 p.m.