Late rally not enough to complete Trojan comeback

Published 9:28 am Friday, January 27, 2023

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After getting down by more than 20 points in the first half, the Troy Trojans men’s basketball team (13-9, 5-4) attempted to rally in the second half but ultimately fell 72-57 to the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (17-4, 7-2) on the road Thursday night.

The loss keeps Troy in a tie for fourth place in the Sun Belt, while Louisiana remains in first place. Troy fell behind 11-3 in the first four minutes of the game and trailed 22-5 midway through the first half. Louisiana held a seemingly insurmountable 41-17 lead at halftime.

Still, the Trojans came out firing in the second half and cut the lead down to 14 points with under five minutes remaining. Troy outscored Louisiana 40-31 in the second but could never draw closer than the 14 points deficit.

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“The second half is the only silver lining,” Troy coach Scott Cross said. “I felt like we didn’t even have a heartbeat in the first half. But, in the second half, they played well and competed. We won the second half, but when you get blown out the way we did in the first half, it doesn’t really matter. I am glad our guys at least fought back.”

Troy shot 40.4 percent from the field in the game but just 25 percent shooting in the first half. The Trojans also turned the ball over 15 times and lost the rebound battle 34-31. Kieffer Punter scored 16 points – all in the second half – to lead Troy along with grabbing six rebounds and three steals. Christian Turner added 12 points in the loss, while Zay Williams scored 11 points, earned nine rebounds and dished three assists.

The Trojans are back on the road on Jan. 28 against rival South Alabama at 3 p.m. in a game that will stream live on ESPN+.