Troy to travel to South Alabama on Sunday

Published 10:29 pm Friday, January 27, 2012

Troy forward Ray Chambers (34) looks for room as Louisiana Monroe forward Christian Bibi Ndongo (5) guards during an NCAA college basketball game in Troy, Ala., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

It’s normal to hear a coach try and shine a positive light on a tough loss. Looking at Troy’s situation, it may be understandable.

Head coach Don Maestri had nothing but good things to say about his team after they suffered a 71-58 defeat to Middle Tennessee on Thursday night. After all, the Blue Raiders (20-2, 9-0) have dominated nearly everyone on their schedule including UCLA and Ole Miss. With the victory over Troy, Middle Tennessee earned its first 20-win season in 21 years.

“Anytime you win 20 games you must have a good team,” Maestri said. “That doesn’t happen by accident.”

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Troy committed a season-high 19 turnovers Thursday night but Maestri feels the Blue Raiders defense had more to do with that than poor play by the Trojans.

“They play great defense,” he said. “We didn’t handle the ball well but that’s a credit to how well they played.”

Middle Tennessee’s defense is allowing just 59.2 points per game, which ranks them 20th in the nation currently. Troy scored 53 when the teams squared off Jan. 5.

The Trojans will now look ahead to a rematch with another conference opponent, South Alabama on Sunday. The Jaguars edged Troy 75-60 in Sartain Hall two weeks ago.

The Trojans were particularly poor shooters in the Jan. 14 contest converting just 30.6 percent (22-72) of their tries from the field and made just 6 of 37 attempts from three-point range.

Middle Tennessee also slowed the Trojans to just 5-for-18 from long range yet Troy still ranks third in the nation with 9.2 three-pointer a game.

South Alabama (10-9, 2-6) comes in on a three game skid including a 25-point thrashing at the hands on Arkansas-Little Rock.

The Jaguars’ Freddie Goldstein set a school record with nine three-pointers in the first meeting. He finished with 30 points on the night. For the season Goldstein is 10.6 points per game and has scored just 17 points in the three games combined since playing Troy.

The Trojans will have a different starting lineup than South Alabama saw before. Both Steven Cunningham and Justin Wright have been moved into starting roles in the pair of games following the last time the two teams met.

“Steven played harder than he has all season (against Middle Tennessee State),” Maestri said. “We feel very confident with the starting five we have out there.”

Troy and South Alabama will tip at 3 p.m. from the Mitchell Center in Mobile. The game will be broadcast on WTBF 94.7 FM.