/Hot start for Troy’s men’s basketball team

Hot start for Troy’s men’s basketball team

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Michael Shipma

Sports Editor

The Troy men’s basketball team jumped out to a fast start this season, with an 82-77 win at South Florida on Friday, Nov. 13, and a 97-82 victory at home over Reinhardt on Sunday, Nov. 15.

The Trojans (2-0, 0-0 Sun Belt) were led by freshman forward Jordon Varnado and junior guard Jeremy Hollimon, who combined for 71 points in the two games.

Initially, Troy’s season opener against South Florida of Tampa looked as if it were out of reach.

Led by freshman guard Jahmal McMurray, who scored a team-high of 21 points, the Bulls (0-2, 0-0 American) were able to go up by 14 with 2:09 left to play in the first half.

Nine points later, the Trojans had bounced back, trailing only 44-49 going into the locker room.

Troy shot 38.1 percent from the field compared to USF’s 47.4 percent, and only 9.1 percent from beyond the arc to 47.2 percent from the Bulls.

The visiting Trojans came out of halftime looking to win, and they  strung together a 10-0 run against the Bulls’ defense, earning their first lead of the contest at the 13:34 mark.

USF refused to give in, reclaiming the lead at 73-74 with 2:33 left in the game.

Troy ended the game on a 9-3 run and claimed the victory 82-77.

The men’s team then returned to Trojan Arena two days later to take on the Reinhardt Eagles of Waleska, Georgia (4-2, 0-0 NAIA AAC), where it met similar results to its season-opening win.

Senior forward Perie Finley made a layup with 9:03 left in the first half, extending Reinhardt’s lead to nine.

The Trojans clawed their way back into the game throughout the remainder of the half, eventually taking its first lead of the game at 39-37 with 3:19 left.

The home team rode its lead through the rest of the half, and took a 47-42 lead into the locker room.

Troy came out of halftime with an up-tempo offensive attack that generated a 25-point lead following a layup from senior guard Kelton Ford with 11:46 left to play. Despite turning the ball over 12 times in the second half, the Trojans were able to keep Reinhardt at bay with a 57.6 shooting percentage, escape with the victory and outscore the Eagles 50-40 in the final 20 minutes.

The Trojans’ 97 points were the most ever scored under third-year head coach Phil Cunningham.

Troy will stay at home for its next game against UAB on Thursday, Nov. 19, in Trojan Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.