Men fall on three game skid

(PHOTO/ Chris Wallace) Freshman guard KJ Simon drives to the basket in Saturday’s loss to in-state foe South Alabama. The Trojans are heating up from three, shooting a season-high 52.6 percent behind the arc, connecting on 10 of 19 attempts.
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Scott Shelton

Staff Writer

The Troy men’s basketball team dropped its third-straight game on the road Saturday, falling to Sun Belt Conference rival South Alabama 81-75 after struggling in the second half.

Following the loss, the Trojans fell to 10-11 overall and 3-6 in Sun Belt Conference play. 

After the game, head coach Phil Cunningham noted the Jaguars’ three-point shooting as one of the determining factors in the game.

“It’s an extremely tough loss,” Cunningham said. “The difference in the game was South’s three-point shooting in the second half, and we also had some turnovers down the stretch that hurt us. 

“They also outscored us by 10 at the free-throw line which is a major difference. I don’t know if there’s ever been a game where you shoot that well and still lose.” 

For the game, the Trojans shot 56 percent from the field and 53 percent from beyond the arc. 

It was a tale of two halves for Troy.

In the first half, the Trojans went 8-12 from the three-point line, and shot 63 percent overall as they went into halftime with a 42-30 lead. 

The Trojans played defense well, too, holding South Alabama to just 35 percent from the field.

In the second half, however, the Jaguars exploded, making eight of its nine three-pointers and shot 16 for 23 from the floor as a whole. 

As Cunningham noted, the Jaguars gained an advantage at the free-throw line too, shooting 15-21 for the game and 11-14 in the second half compared to 5-11 for the Trojans. 

The Trojans had four players score double-digit points.

Redshirt sophomore Darian Adams led the team in scoring with 17 points and shot three-four from beyond the arc.

Jordan Varnado and Alex Hicks scored 16 points apiece and combined for 15 rebounds, and B.J. Miller contributed with 10 points. 

Varnado, a senior forward, saw his seven-game streak of scoring 20 or more points snapped. 

Varnado currently leads the Sun Belt Conference with 21.5 points per game. 

Five Jaguars reached double-digit points, led by forward Trhae Mitchell’s 17 points. 

Mitchell, who averages 15 points and seven rebounds per game, was named Sun Belt Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week last week. 

Josh Ajayi had a double-double for the Jaguars with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

The Trojans’ Sun Belt Conference is halfway complete. 

The team has nine more games until the conference tournament in March. 

Currently, the Trojans sit at 3-6 and 10th place of 12 teams. 

Next, The Trojans have a two-game home stand on Thursday and Saturday in which they face Arkansas State (10-12, four-five) and Little Rock (7-15, 2-7). 

The Red Wolves and the Little Rock Trojans have two of the top four scorers in the Sun Belt Conference.

Red Wolves’ guard Ty Cockfield ranks second in the conference with 21 points per game.

Little Rock Trojans’ guard Rayjon Tucker averages 20 points per game while shooting better than 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc. 

Thursday’s game tips at  6 p.m while Saturday’s is set for 2 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on ESPN+.

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