• 72°

Trojans face Jaguars tonight

The Troy Trojans are not focusing on tonight’s meeting with the South Alabama Jaguars being the third time this season. The Trojans are focusing on making it to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Tournament.

“We are not going to get hung up on all the talk about this being the third time we are playing South,” Troy head coach Don Maestri said. “We are going to focus on this being our first game of the tournament and no matter what opponent we face we want to be ready.”

So far in the tournament the only team to win by more than seven points was Denver in a 66-57 win over Louisiana-Monroe Wednesday and Maestri said the rest of the tournament should be no different.

“There were five games that were mighty close Wednesday night,” he said. “And in the South Alabama game UNO missed four free throws down the stretch in a two-point loss. We expect this game Sunday to be another hard fought contest.”

If he is not focusing on the third time against South, then Maestri said he is definitely not focusing on the pressure of playing in a tournament.

“I never talk about tournaments being one and done,” he said. “I learned a long time ago that you cannot worry about the end result. You just have to play the game and see what happens. If you get immersed in the game you don’t worry about those things.”

The Trojans enter the 9 p.m. Sunday tip with the Jaguars on somewhat of a hot streak. After opening Sun Belt play with a 2-3 record they went on a 10-game win streak and won 12 of 13 games to close out the regular season. It all started with a 94-70 blowout win in Mobile against the Jaguars.

“You always hope that you might play well towards the end of the season and if you have confidence your hopes are higher,” Maestri said. “But I am strange about hot teams because I have been burnt in the past as the higher ranked team. And in the Sun Belt Tournament 15 years ago the last place team, FIU, won the tournament. So anything can happen. I have seen it go so many ways through the years and there is no formula for winning it all.”

But winning it all is the furthest thing from Maestri’s mind right now.

“I don’t try to analyze our chances,” he said. “Our total focus right now is on South Alabama. We have studied film and noticed they did eight new things the second time we played them that they didn’t do the first time. We need to make sure we are ready for what they will do this time.”

The Trojans and Jaguars are scheduled to tip at 9 p.m. from Hot Springs, Ark.