Trojans host MTSU

Published 11:10 pm Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders invade Troy Thursday for a battle of Top-3 teams in the Sun Belt East Division. The Trojans (15-10, 10-3 Sun Belt) will look to keep their eight-game win streak alive at home tonight.

“This is a game we are happy to be in,” Troy head coach Don Maestri said. “We did not expect to be where we are at this point in the season, but we did expect Middle Tennessee to be here. This should be a great game.”

The Trojans currently sit at 10-3 in conference play and the Blue Raiders (15-9, 8-4) are right behind Troy in the Eastern Division standings. Troy’s current eight-game win streak is a product of a few things, according to Maestri.

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“I think we have had the success we have because this team has kept improving,” Maestri said. “We still have more to learn, but they continue to want to learn and that is a great thing.”

That learning curve has included two straight Sun Belt Men’s Player of the Week awards for Brandon Hazzard.

No matter whether the Trojans are on a one-game streak or an eight-game streak it is all the same to Maestri.

“The streak we are on is great, but we never really look at those things because they can only be a distraction for what you are trying to do that night on the court,” he said. “We still have five games left in conference play and our next game is Middle Tennessee. That is what we are focused on now.”

Maestri said the Blue Raiders would give the Trojans some good competition tonight.

“We will have to play like we did against South Alabama earlier this year if we want to get a win,” Maestri said. “We will need our players off the bench to do well and we will need another strong effort from our starters. Middle Tennessee is a very experienced team that has played in big games before. We will also need to be more competitive than the last time we faced these guys if we want to get a win.”

Maestri said the Trojans would have to find an answer for Desmond Yates, who he calls the Sun Belt’s best inside scorer.

“I just hope we play really well because that is the only way we can succeed against a high-caliber team such as Middle Tennessee,” Maestri said. “It is just a very important game in the season for us.”

The Trojans and the Blue Raiders tip off at 7 p.m. tonight from Trojan Arena.