By: Andy Simmons
Photo by: Joshua Thurston
Move over Chauncey Billups, there’s a new Mr. Big Shot, and he’s here on campus.
Emil Jones is now 2-2 on last second shots at Trojan Arena after burying a last second three-pointer to send the men of Troy to overtime and, eventually, a 74-67 victory over Arkansas State this past Thursday.
“We fought all night and we were down late. We got some stops, made some big baskets and on that last play I was fortunate enough to make it,” Jones said.
The victory put the Trojans at 8-12 overall before Saturday and was just their third conference win of the season (3-6).
Despite being behind virtually the entire game, the Trojans were able to take command in the overtime period, outscoring the Red Wolves 13-6.
“It was an outstanding win,” head coach Don Maestri said.
“So many good things happened tonight. Other players stepped up. I thought the rebounding was nice. They’re the only team in our conference to beat Middle Tennessee, so that helps us in terms of confidence because we didn’t just beat anybody, we beat a team that was fighting for the top of their division.”
The game started off promising for the Trojans early after two quick baskets by Jones and Antoine Myers, but things turned sour quick as Arkansas State took the lead with an 11-0 run.
Troy would not retake the lead until 11:30 left in the second half when a Josh Warren tip-in off a missed Jeff Mullahey shot brought the score to 42-40.
Free throws from Myers and Tevin Calhoun helped preserve the lead for a short period until a Cameron Golden trifecta put the Red Wolves back on top 46-48.
The game was back and forth for an extended period until another Golden three-pointer seemed to put the game out of reach for the Trojans.
That’s when Coach Maestri decided to change the game up and showed the Red Wolves a full court press that was too much for them to handle.
Arkansas State made zero field goals for the last six minutes of regulation as a result of this.
“I would like to credit that to our defense,” Maestri said.
Troy finished at 48.2 percent from the field (27-of-56) and 35.0 percent from the three point line (7-of-20).
Four Trojans scored in double figures. Jones led the way with 16 points (5-9, 2-2 from three) with Myers having 13 (5-9), Hunter Williams with 12 (4-8, 0-3 from three) and Calhoun with 10 (3-8, 2-5 from three).
After the victory, the message was simple amongst players and coaches that this conference is still up for grabs and that the men of Troy will never go away without a fight.
“I’m hoping the message is that we can compete with anyone in this league,” Maestri said.
“The message now is that you guys can compete, can you play on a consistent basis and perform the way you did tonight.”
The Trojans will be back in action tonight when they travel to Bowling Green to face the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky at 7 p.m.