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Trojans look to stay hot against Jaguars

The Troy Trojans will be looking for a little bit of revenge tonight when they play host to the South Alabama Jaguars tonight at 7 p.m.

The two teams met back on Jan. 16, when USA pulled out a 69-67 win on dramatic fashion.

Troy trailed by three late in the game before senior guard Michael Vogler hit a 3-pointer to tie the game with just seven seconds left.

However, USA’s Allyn Cooks was able to get to the basket and a convert on a lay-up as time expired to give the Jaguars the victory.

The memory of that loss has stuck with the Troy players, and should provide a little extra motivation tonight.

“ I think we owe South one, so I’m sure we’re going to come out with some intensity,” said senior Richard Delk.

Head coach Don Maestri also said he expects the team to be ready for tonight’s game given the rivalry between the two schools.

“With the fact that it’s South Alabama, which is a game that’s developed into having some meaning since they’re the only in-state opponent in our conference, I’m pretty sure we’ll be focused,” Maestri said.

The game should be an interesting battle between one of the Sun Belt’s top offensive teams and one of the conference’s more stingy defensive squads.

Troy has the league’s top offense at 77.8 points per game, and the league’s second-leading scorer in senior guard Brandon Hazzard, who averages 16.8 points per game.

Troy is also a very efficient shooting team, as the Trojans lead the Sun Belt in 3-point field goal percentage and are second in overall field goal percentage.

In addition to Hazzard, Troy has three other players that average double figures in points.

Delk averages 12.9, while senior guard Michael Vogler averages 11.1 points per contest and senior center Yamene Coleman averages 10.7

The Jaguars, meanwhile, will counter with a defense that has held opponents to one of the lowest overall shooting percentages in the Sun Belt.

USA ranks first in field goal percentage defense and second in 3-point field goal percentage defense, the visiting Jaguars could cool meaning Troy’s hot shooting.

Tim Williams leads the Jaguars in scoring, and finds himself in the top 10 in the Sun Belt in two major statistical categories.

Williams is fourth in the league in rebounding with 7.3 boards per game and eighth in scoring at 14.9 points per game.

While Troy will likely need Hazzard to match Williams’ scoring, Coleman will be charged with keeping the star Jaguar off the glass.

Coleman has proven to be no slouch on the boards himself this season, having pulled down eight rebounds per game, which ranks him third in the conference.

One positive sign for Troy heading into tonight’s game is the team’s performance in its last outing, a 75-56 win over ULM.

In that game, Hazzard was held to just three points thanks to the Warhawks’ insistence on denying him the basketball.

Fortunately for Troy, five other Trojans stepped up and scored 10 points or more, including Antywan Jones with 10 points and Vernon Taylor with 14 points.

The challenge for Troy will be carrying that effort over into tonight’s game.

“I do not expect us to be as inconsistent as we have been,” Maestri said. “I think we’re going to start leveling off and playing good basketball. I don’t want to jinx us, but I certainly don’t think we’ll play a bad game. It will be a good test to see where we are at.”

Troy and South Alabama will play a men’s/women’s doubleheader tonight, with the women’s game set to begin at 5:15 p.m. and the men to follow at roughly 7:30 p.m.