Troy comes back to beat rival South Alabama

Published 7:48 am Friday, February 10, 2023

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The Troy Trojans (15-11, 7-6) men’s basketball team completed a second half rally to knock off rival South Alabama Jaguars (11-14, 5-8) by a score of 61-57 on Thursday.

Despite trailing by as many as 10 in the second half, Nelson Phillips sparked a 6-0 run by scoring back-to-back baskets in a 30-second span to cut South Alabama’s lead to 50-47 with less than eight minutes to go.

The two sides traded buckets for the next few minutes until Phillips knocked down a three-pointer to tie the score with under five minutes remaining. It was the first time the game had been tied since late in the first half.

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After USA retook a lead with under two minutes left in the game, Phillips stole a South Alabama inbounds pass and hit a layup to give the Trojans a 58-57 lead with 45 seconds left. At that point, the game became a free throw contest as the Jags attempted to conserve time. Troy knocked down 3-of-6 free throw attempts in the final 40 seconds, while South Alabama missed both of its free throw attempts to secure a 61-57 Troy win.

“Nelson Phillips, man, did he give us a lift,” Troy coach Scott Cross said. “He played absolutely phenomenal on the offensive end of the floor, as well as getting steals and creating offense with his defense.

“Our guys did an outstanding job keeping them out of the pain. We needed one of these games where we had to fight and claw. We showed a ton of resilience and (I) couldn’t be more proud of our guys. We don’t give up.”

Troy won the battle on the boards, outrebounding South Alabama 43-38, and outscored South Alabama in the paint 34-26. Troy also shot 41.8 percent from the field and held South Alabama to 34.9 percent shooting.

Phillips had a big night for Troy with 16 points, three rebounds and four steals, while Kieffer Punter tallied 12 points and four rebounds. Aamer Muhammad added 11 points and five rebounds, while Zay Williams chipped in with eight points and 13 rebounds.

After losing three straight games, the Trojans are now on a two-game winning streak and will look to continue that momentum this Saturday against the Sun Belt’s second place Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns at home at 4 p.m.