Troy falls to UAB in season opener

Published 9:49 pm Thursday, November 7, 2019

University of Alabama-Birmingham’s Makhtar Gueye made a three-pointer with five seconds remaining to lift the Blazers to a 76-75 win over Troy in front of 5,000 fans in the season opener on Thursday night.

The Trojans led the Blazers by two points with 13 seconds remaining. After a timeout, Guye made a step back three to stun the Trojan crowd. Darian Adams lifted a last second shot at the buzzer but it fell off the rim.

“I was proud of our guys. They competed,” head coach  Scott Cross said. “We were down 12 points in the second half and guys fought and clawed. I think that was a point in the game when a team could have folded. They had a ton of character by getting back into the game.”

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Both offenses came out of the gates slow in the opening half. Both teams shot 1-6 heading into the first media timeout.

11 of Troy’s first 13 shots came from behind the arc. They made just three of them.

“I think guys weren’t being aggressive enough,” Cross said. “Everybody was out of rhythm. The crowd was so loud. Our guys were just out of sync. We want to drive it in there. Our first six shots, one of them was a good shot.”

Following back-to-back three pointers by Darian Adams, the Trojans had their first lead of the game at 9-7. The Blazers answered with a 13-0 run to give them a 20-9 lead heading into the under 8:00 timeout. The Trojans went into that timeout making just three of their first 17 shots.

Trailing 23-11, the Trojans ended the first half on a 19-3 run and went into halftime leading 30-26.

The Trojans trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half. Trailing, the Blazers went on a 17-2 run to battle back and take the lead in the second half. The Trojans regrouped to take a five-point lead with just over a minute remaining.

The Trojan defense forced 21 turnovers to their six. They were outrebounded 45-22.

“That’s what our defense was designed to do,” Cross said. “We want to fly around and be aggressive and get every loose ball. Defense rebounding was our Achilles heel and that’s where we ended up losing the game.”

After starting the game 1-6, the Trojans ended the game shooting 44 percent.

KJ Simon led all scorers with 21 points. Adams and Ty Gordon each finished with 18 points.

“KJ was awesome,” Cross said. “He has been in the gym all year long. He has really improved his shot. He is such a strong finisher. Ty is one of our best all-around players. This game we decided to bring him off the bench, but we definitely look at him as a starter.”

The Trojans will be back in action on Tuesday when they host Chattanooga beginning at 6 p.m.