The Troy men’s basketball team split a pair of conference games over the weekend, falling to Arkansas State 80-82 before rebounding with a 78-69 victory over Little Rock.
After the two road games, Troy (11-10, 3-4 Sun Belt) maintains a record just over the .500 mark heading into a stretch of 11 consecutive conference games. That stretch is highlighted by a matchup with red-hot Georgia Southern, which has yet to lose a Sun Belt game.
In Saturday night’s thriller against Arkansas State, the Red Wolves held the Trojans at bay to prevent their first home loss of the season. Troy held a lead for over 30 minutes of the game, but Arkansas State gained a slim advantage with just over five minutes remaining and held it until the final buzzer.
The Trojans had two missed three-point attempts and a missed layup in the final 16 seconds of the game, preserving the Red Wolves’ two-point victory.
“First of all, it is an incredible atmosphere to play in here,” said Troy Head Coach Phil Cunningham. “Our players love playing in environments like this, and it was a battle all the way to the end. We couldn’t get the stops when we needed to at the end of the game.”
What ultimately decided the outcome for the game was the spur of turnovers near the end of the game by Troy, and Arkansas State’s 44 points in the paint.
For the Red Wolves, Devin Carter led all scorers with his 23 points. Complementing the Red Wolves’ points in the paint was a 70 percent shot percentage in the second half.
Jordon Varnado and Juan Davis Jr. paced the offense for the Trojans with their 18 and 16 points, respectively. Varnado shot 9-10 from the field in his 32 minutes of play.
On Monday night, Troy turned things around and picked up a victory over Little Rock in a game that was much closer than the score implied. The Trojans led by only one with 2:32 remaining before Jeremy Hollimon took the game into his hands. Hollimon scored nine of his 14 second-half points in that final 2:32 to seal the deal on the road.
“You have to give our guys credit for hanging in there in one of the toughest places to play in the league,” Cunningham said. “We toughed one out to stay in the middle of the pack in the Sun Belt standings.”
In addition to Hollimon’s 24 points, 23 points from Varnado helped to keep the hosting Trojans of Little Rock from robbing another close game from Troy.
Varnado and the Trojans took advantage of Little Rock’s starting center being ruled out for the game, allowing for a productive day from the big man. Varnado earned his eighth double-double of his career, shooting 8-17 from the floor and collecting 13 rebounds.
The Trojans were able to consistently work the ball down low, scoring 32 points in the paint over the course of the night.
Although overshadowed by the impressive play near the basket, a deciding factor in the win was the 41 points contributed by the Trojan bench. Redshirt sophomore Alex Hicks scored a career-high 14 points coming off the bench to help the Trojans win their third conference game of the season.
The Trojans certainly have their work cut out for them in the weeks ahead as they host their next three games: Georgia State, Georgia Southern and rival South Alabama.
Tipoff for Saturday’s matchup against Georgia State is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. Fans will also be able to tune in to the action on ESPN3.