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Hazzard wins SBC award

In a turn of events that bring memories of last season to mind, Troy senior Brandon Hazzard was named the Sun Belt Player of the Week on Tuesday.

“It’s a pretty cool feeling,” Hazzard said.

“Now I’m just hoping this can be a spark that can help us get a win streak going like we did last year.”

Hazzard won the award after an impressive individual performance in Troy’s Dec. 4 81-77 win over SEC and in-state foe Auburn.

In that game, Hazzard scored 28 points on 9-14 shooting and 7-10 from 3-point range.

“It really was like some of his big performances from last season,” said coach Don Maestri. “He just got on a roll and hit some big shots, especially some key shots when the game was tight that enabled us to keep the momentum on our side.”

Hazzard’s performance was key for Troy, as he struggled in each of Troy’s three losses.

Against Florida and UAB, Hazzard was a combined 2-21 from the field and 0-8 from 3-point territory for just eight points.

“Early on in the season, he seemed to be carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders,” Maestri said. “There seemed to be too much pressure on him and it just didn’t look like he was having fun playing basketball.”

Hazzard said his struggles were just part of competitive basketball. “Every basketball player, whether it’s in college or in the NBA, is going to have a period where they are struggling,” Hazzard said.

However, Hazzard’s fortunes started to turn over Thanksgiving weekend, when the Trojans traveled to the Georgia Southern tournament.

“He’s loosened up considerably these last few games, and that really started with the Georgia Southern tournament,” Maestri said.

Hazzard scored 61 points in three games that weekend, setting the stage for his breakout game against Auburn.

“It was just good to have a game like that where I was able to get my rhythm back and get back to playing like I’m supposed to,” Hazzard said.

With another award in his pocket and a big win in the record books, Hazzard is convinced the tough times are over for him.

“It was just a period where I was struggling, but I knew it wasn’t going to last too long,” Hazzard said.