Troy aims for road victory in Ohio

Published 9:00 pm Friday, December 10, 2010

For the second-straight week, the Troy Trojans men’s basketball team will be on the road.

And for the second consecutive week, the team will be looking for its second win of the season.

The Trojan will hit the hardwood for the first time in a week today against Miami (OH), and in the process shooting to end its current six-game losing streak.

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“It’s going to be a challenge,” head coach Don Maestri said. “But it’s going to be a game that is very manageable for us if we play well.

“(Miami (OH)) is a solid team, no doubt about it. They have beaten some quality opponents this year when playing at home. If we play well, we are going to have a shot against them, there’s not a doubt in my mind about that.”

The Redhawks will enter the game with a 4-5 record, and coming off its most recent victory against Division II Saginaw Valley on Tuesday night.

Julian Mavunga has been a big part of what Miami (OH) has been able to do this season, as the junior leads the team in several categories, including minutes per game, at 34, rebounds, assists, blocks and scoring, with 13.3 points per game.

Nick Winbush and Antonio Ballard are also averaging double-digits in points with 11.3 and 10.7 respectively.

For the Trojans, while shooting has been a problem at times, the team still has multiple scoring threats.

Seniors Vernon Taylor, Levan Patsatia and Bernard Toombs are all averaging double-digits.

Taylor is currently second in the Sun Belt in scoring with 16.7 points per game, while Patsatia and Toombs are scoring 12.5 and 10.6 points per game.

Toombs also is currently ranked 44th in the nation in rebounds per game, with 9.4.

Even with those scorers, the shooting has to improve, as the Trojans as a whole are hovering around 41 percent from the field.

“The biggest thing is, we have to find a way to shoot the ball well for 40 minutes,” the coach said.

“We have had little spurts where we have shot the ball well, and then gone cold. We can’t have that against these guys.”

So far this season, Troy is 0-5 on the road, but all it would take to turn things around is one win, according to the coach.

“They have some height on them, but this is a pretty good matchup for us,” Maestri said.

“It’s all going to come down to whether we are able to play our game or not. I have been seeing some improvement in the last couple of days, which is a positive sign. If we keep playing hard, and hit some shots, I think we have a real legitimate shot of winning.”

That opportunity for a win, against a quality opponent, on the road, could mean all the difference for the Trojans.

“We haven’t had that winning feeling in a long time. We haven’t tasted it in over a month. So, to get a win (on Saturday) would be huge for not just the players but for everyone, the coaches, the trainers, the radio guys. It’s something that would lift this team up and give us a place to really take off of.”

Tip-off is set for today at 3:30 p.m. central time.