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Troy clips Raiders

Brandon Hazzard again led the Trojans, as Troy took out the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 70-64 Thursday night in Trojan Arena. Hazzard scored 21 points in front of a season-high 2,735 fans to pace the Trojans.

Troy (16-10, 11-3 Sun Belt) jumped out to an early lead, fell behind and surged in the beginning of the second half to leap ahead of the Blue Raiders.

“From the beginning I thought it was going to be an exciting game starting off with the national anthem,” Troy head coach Don Maestri said. “Basketball wise we got off to a good start, then they switched defenses on us to get us out of our rhythm and we were stunned.”

Troy jumped out to an 11-1 lead with 14:30 remaining in the first half, but Middle Tennessee cut the lead to 13-12 with 9:40 to go in the first half.

“It took us to halftime where we knew we needed to change some stuff,” Maestri said. “We didn’t get down and we did a great job in the second half defensively.”

Troy did so well that they went on a 20-2 run in a little more than eight minutes in middle of the second half to jump out to a 49-34 lead.

Hazzard said there was definitely a difference from the last time these two teams met, which was an 81-53 beat down in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Dec. 11.

“They came out aggressive on defense and it was a low-scoring game so our key thing was to be as patient as possible,” Hazzard said. “We won the game on the defensive end and that was great.”

The Blue Raiders took their first lead of the game at 14-13, but Kenny Ware put the Trojans back on top with a three-pointer on the next Troy possession. Demario Williams nailed a three to put MTSU back on top, 17-16.

The teams battled back and forth, trading buckets and one-point leads until MTSU stretched the lead to four points with about four minutes to go in the first. On the very next possession Hazzard drained a three-pointer to cut the lead back to 24-23.

The Blue Raiders pushed the lead back to 28-23. Michael Vogler could not hit a buzzer beating three-pointer and Troy trailed at the half 30-25.

Troy cut the MTSU lead to 32-30 on a layup from Tom Jervis and a three-ball from Richard Delk.

Kenny Ware knocked down a three-pointer to give Troy its first lead since about late in the first half at 36-34. Hazzard added two free throws for a 38-34 Troy lead with 13:32 left in the game and 30 seconds later he drained a three-pointer for a 41-34 Troy lead.

Troy continued to build on the lead as Hazzard kept dropping in the baskets. Troy held a 45-34 lead with 10 minutes left. The Trojans went on a 19-0 run to grab a 49-34 lead.

The Trojans turned on the afterburners with six minutes left, as Vogler and Hazzard nailed long-range shots for a 55-38 lead with 5:30 remaining. Ware added his lightning bolt from downtown with four minutes left for a 61-45 Troy lead.

The Blue Raiders cut the Troy lead to 62-53, but Troy converted two free throws. After the lead was cut to 64-56, Hazzard hit pushed it back to 66-56 with two free throws.

MTSU cut the Troy lead to 68-62 with 14.8 and each team added a bucket for the 70-64 final.

Ware added 13 points for the Trojans with six rebounds and Delk poured in 12 points and snagged nine rebounds in the victory.

Click here for a photo gallery of Thursday’s action