Trojans not intimidated by Duke in NCAA Tournament

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The excitement level for Troy basketball reached its peak on Saturday afternoon when they defeated Texas State in the Sun Belt Conference Championship.

With the win, the Trojans clinched a spot in the NCAA Tournament as a 15 seed.

The Trojans will participate in their first NCAA Tournament since 2003 when they took on Xavier.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“These guys don’t get it yet,” said Troy head coach Phil Cunningham. “ What these guys did by winning this tournament and getting into the NCAA is a special experience the rest of their lives. It’s a special event and we know it takes over a country.”

It will be no small task for the Trojans on Friday night as they get set to play a Blue Devil team that is believed by many to be the hottest team in the country and the odds-on favorite to go all the way and win the national championship.

“When you think of college basketball Duke is right there at the top of the list,” Cunningham said. “When you think of basketball coach, “Coach K” (Mike Kryzewski) is at the top of the list. It’s a great honor to be playing those guys. I think our guys like it because it’s much more of a national stage.”

The Blue Devils finished the season with a 27-8 record and are coming off an ACC Conference Championship after defeating Notre Dame.

“Their talent level is really high,” Cunningham said. “What they did in the conference tournament is amazing. No doubt the ACC is the best league in the country and they are really on a roll right now.”

Even with all their success, the Trojans are not feeling intimated by the “Blue Bloods” from Durham.

“It feels really good to be able to play somebody like Duke,” said Trojan junior Wesley Person. “We are not intimidated by them. We are going to treat them like any other team. We know they are tough and one of the best and hottest teams in the NCAA right now, but we will be ready for them.”

The Trojans are on a roll themselves. Since falling to South Alabama on February 4 the Trojans have gone 10-2, including the four games in New Orleans and it all started with a game against Louisiana Lafayette.

“I thought the trip to Louisiana was important,” Cunningham said. “We went down with our backs to the wall and we hadn’t won in Lafayette since 2009. We went in there and beat them and scored 100 points. Went to Monroe on Monday and Kevin Baker hit a three in overtime to bail us out. I thought that two game road swing really turned our season around.”

Tip off between Troy and Duke is scheduled for 6:20 p.m. in Greenville, South Carolina.