Division leader WKU takes on Troy tonight

Published 8:58 pm Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Troy will have a chance to move into a tie for first place in the Sun Belt’s Eastern Division tonight when it takes on Western Kentucky at Trojan Arena.

Despite losing its last two conference games, Troy (9-9, 4-3) finds itself just a half-game behind WKU (11-6, 4-2) in the conference standings.

WKU is led by A.J. Slaughter, who is third in the conference in scoring with 16.6 points per game.

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“They’ve got AJ Slaughter, who was the preseason player of the year pick, as well as Steffphon Pettigrew and Jeremy Evans, who were both all-conference picks,” said head coach Don Maestri. “Evans, especially, worries us because he’s such a good shot blocker and rebounder. No matter who you look at, you’ve got to realize that they are a very, very talented basketball team.”

While tonight’s game will have a huge impact on the conference standings, Maestri said every game has taken on a big-game feel thanks to the crowded nature of the standings.

“This game is important, but every game is important for us at this point,” Maestri said. “With the league having as much parity as it does this season and with the records all jumbled up, every game carries a lot of importance.”

Troy will be looking to snap a two-game conference losing streak, a streak Maestri said has been due in large part to poor shooting.

“We just haven’t shot very well these last couple games,” Maestri said. “We do some extra shooting in practice, but it’s one of those things where I don’t know if there’s a real answer to the problem.”

According to Maestri, one thing is for sure – Troy must shoot the ball better against WKU in order to have success.

“We have good shooters, but we’re just in a slump,” Maestri said. “If we’re going to have any chance to win, we’ve got to come out of that slump.”