Trojans aim to continue hot streak
Published 7:47 pm Wednesday, January 19, 2011
While two is good, three is always better.
That will be the goal for the Troy Trojans, after a highly successful week at home gave the team its first winning streak of the season.
Now, the team will look to make it three-straight wins, on the road, against Middle Tennessee tonight.
“I think, obviously, we have a little more confidence then before thanks to the wins we got last week,” head coach Don Maestri said Wednesday afternoon as the team traveled across state lines.
“But, this is going to be a big test going back on the road. Can that confidence help us overcome these next couple of challenges? I certainly hope that it does, but right now, our main concern is a talented Middle Tennessee team. Hopefully, we can carry over our play from last week in this game.”
Against Western Kentucky and North Texas, the Trojans shot the ball better then it had all season long, especially after the first half of the game against the Hilltoppers.
After shooting 25 percent in the first half, in the following three halves, the Trojans combined to shot 59 percent, and made 43 percent of their 3-point attempts on their way to outscoring its opponents 123-101.
Even though the basket was big for Troy last week, Maestri said he does not believe that will necessarily be the case this week.
“Really, the last game and a half, I thought we shot the ball well,” the coach said.
“Both Regis (Huddleston) and Travis (Lee) hit six 3-pointers in a row at one point and I think the rest of the guys really fed off of that. Now, I don’t believe we are going to shoot the ball quite as well on the road. But I do think we will have some more confidence than usual on offense.”
The aforementioned confidence is one that the team will need to have tonight against a Blue Raiders team who will be aiming to get back on a winning track.
Middle Tennessee is coming off a 69-65 loss to Arkansas State, dropping the team to 7-11 overall, and 2-3 in the conference.
The first two wins came against North Texas and Louisiana-Lafayette.
Against the Trojans at home, the Blue Raiders are 4-2, and lead the overall series 6-7.
The last time the two teams met, Troy held on for a 66-62 win, in Troy.
Currently, Middle Tennessee ranks fourth in the league in scoring, at 71.9 points per game, and third in free throws, at 71.5 percent.
But that is not what concerns Maestri going in to Murfreesboro.
“Middle Tennessee is one of, if not the, most aggressive teams when it comes to rebounds,” the coach said.
“That is a concern of ours going into the game, we have to find a way to limit their opportunities with the basketball. Again, it is going to be a challenge to play well on the road, but hopefully we come in as confident as I think we can be.”
However, getting rebounds this season has not been a problem for the Trojans.
The Men of Troy currently lead the league in rebounds per game, averaging nearly 40 per contest.
The last time a Troy team did that was during the 2002-03 season, when it averaged 40.2.
Restricting the Blue Raiders to few second and third opportunities will be key tonight, especially with point guard James Washington running the offense.
Washington is Middle Tennessee’s leader in both points and assists, averaging nearly 14 points and three assists a game.
“He is a great shooter, and we cannot afford to let him get going,” Maestri said.
“He really makes the whole offense go, so if he starts playing well, they are going to have a lot of success. Hopefully, that is not the case (Thursday night).”
The Trojans and the Blue Raiders will get things started at 7 p.m. tonight, as both teams will be shooting for a .500 record in conference play.