Troy to face tough test in FAU to open conference tournament

Published 11:32 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Troy men’s basketball team will face Florida Atlantic in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament on Friday.

The Trojans have fallen twice to the Owls this season and head coach Don Maestri knows what kind of challenge his team will face in Hot Springs, Ark.

“That’s the one team that kicked us twice, badly,” Maestri said. “For whatever reason, they have had our number.”

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One reason for FAU’s success against the Trojans this season has been the play of senior Greg Gant.

Gant became the all-time leading scorer at Florida Atlantic in the Dec. 27 meeting with Troy at Trojan Arena. He needed just four points coming into the contest and finished with 26. When the two teams played on Jan. 17, Gant scored 23. He has scored in double-figures for the Owls in every game this season except one.

“When he sees Troy, he thinks it’s the Fourth of July or something,” Maestri said. “We should know his name by heart, we have nightmares about him.”

The Trojans will look to get the ball in the basket on a more consistent basis in the tournament, which is something that has plagued the team this year. Troy is averaging just 61.4 points per game ranking them 10th in the Sun Belt. As a team, Troy is last in the league shooting just 39.6 percent from the field.

“I think our biggest problem and it has been like this for most of the year, we can’t score,” said Maestri. “That’s what we are going to have to do, we have to have some guys step up and score.”

One Trojans shooting the ball well is Ray Chambers. The senior needs to attempts just six more field goals to become the first Trojan since Bernard Toombs in 2010-11 to shoot over 50 percent with 200 field goal attempts.

Troy leads the all-time series against Florida Atlantic 19-12 but have lost five of the last six meetings.

Troy and Florida Atlantic will square off at 8:30 p.m. on Friday.