Trojans overcome 10-point deficit to win fourth straight

Published 10:16 am Friday, February 17, 2023

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The Troy Trojans (17-11, 9-6) men’s basketball team won their fourth straight contest on Thursday night by a score of 67-62 over the Arkansas State Red Wolves (10-18, 2-13) on the road.

It was a free throw battle down the stretch as the two sides combined to shoot 50 free throws on the night. Both teams converted 19-of-25 free throw attempts, while the Trojans shot 44.7 percent from the field and held Arkansas State to 27.8 percent shooting. Troy also dominated the boards, outrebounding the Red Wolves 34-29 and outscored ASU 28-26 in the paint.

“I knew it was going to be tough. You look at all (Arkansas State’s) scores, and they are right there,” Troy coach Scott Cross said. “It’s always close with them. They’ve got a good team with a ton of weapons, and they competed tonight. They had us down 10 in the second half, and our guys could’ve folded.

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“We called a timeout, and I ripped them pretty good and they responded. (Nelson) Phillips was one of those guys that came up big tonight. He fell out of rhythm early on, but when we put him back in, he changed the game. Once he flips that switch, it’s game over.”

Despite getting down by as many as 10 points in the second half, Troy outscored Arkansas State 10-2 in the final two minutes.

With the Trojans trailing 60-57 with 2:41 left Phillips buried a three with 2:11 left to tie the score. Aamer Muhammad then knocked down a three with 1:19 left to give the Trojans a 63-60 lead. After ASU converted a pair of free throws to cut the Troy lead to one point with 55 seconds left, Christyon Eugene hit a pair of free throws of his own to extend the lead to 65-62 with 16 seconds left. ASU missed a three and Phillips grabbed the rebound and then buried another pair of free throws to secure the 67-62 Trojan win.

Phillips ended the game with 22 points, four rebounds and two steals, while both Muhammad and Eugene scored 16 points each. Muhammad also had two assists and two steals, and Eugene grabbed five rebounds and dished three assists. Zay Williams chipped in with seven points and nine rebounds.

The win not only marked Troy’s fourth straight victory but it put the Trojans in sole possession of fifth place in the Sun Belt with three games remaining on the regular season schedule. Troy remains on the road this Saturday, Feb. 18, at Marshall at 6 p.m.