Trojans get outmanned inside, fall to Blazers 79-63

Published 3:00 am Friday, November 20, 2015

Photo/chip dillard The Troy Trojans dropped their first game of the season Thursday night when they fell to the University of Allabama-Birmingham 79-61.

Photo/chip dillard
The Troy Trojans dropped their first game of the season Thursday night when they fell to the University of Allabama-Birmingham 79-61.

The Troy Trojans missed an opportunity to grab a program defining victory Thursday evening, falling to the University of Alabama-Birmingham 79-61.

The Trojans rolled into Thursday night’s game with a 2-0 record after defeating South Florida and Reinhart to begin the year. Their ultimate test came against a Blazer team returning 11 players from last year’s NCAA Tournament team.

“Give UAB credit,” said Trojan head coach Phil Cunningham. “They are a real good basketball team. I thought in the second half they were really good. At this point, they are a better basketball team than us. We have to get better and we will get better.”

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The Trojans struggled to put the ball in the basket and contain the Blazers.

“We just needed to make shots to make a difference,” Cunningham said. “In the second half they wore us down. They are a tough physical team and they have depth.”

The Trojans fell behind early to the Blazers 7-0 in the first half of the game, and at one point were behind by 13 points in the opening half.

Trailing 21-8, the Trojans got a boost when sophomore Wesley Person scored eight points, putting the Trojans within one point at 25-24.

The Trojans shot just 26 percent in the first half including a dismal 2-11 from behind the arc, both of those made by Person. The Troy run near the end of the first half.

The Blazers ended the half shooting 43 percent and if it wasn’t for the turnovers and offensive fouls, the Blazers could have put the game out of reach early in the opening half. The Blazers finished the half with eight turnovers while the Trojans finished with seven.

The Trojans came out in the second half and brought the Trojan Arena crowd to life, thanks to the play of Varnado and Person, who went on an 8-point run and tied the game at 32.

The Trojans had the game tied for just 55 seconds before the Blazers gained a little bit more separation, going on a a 20-6 run and never looking back.

The Trojans had an opportunity to take the lead by a three point attempt by Person missed and Troy never had another chance.

“Probably the biggest difference of the game came at the 10-minute mark,” Cunningham said. “With the game tied, we had the ball and missed a wide open three that could have put us ahead.”

The Trojans improved their shooting percentage in the second half, but it was only enough to put them at 35 percent on the night.

The bright spots for the Trojans once again Varnado and Person. Varnado finished with 24 points to lead the Trojans while Person finished with 13.

The Blazers received a huge night offensively by former Troy recruit Lewis Sullivan who had a team high 22 points.

“This team is going to get better and better,” Cunningham said. “We are not going to continue to shoot the way we are shooting. We are going to get better as the season goes on.”

The Trojans will now prepare for the Mean Green Showcase in Denton, Texas, where they will take on another instate rival in Samford. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday.