The Troy men’s basketball team enjoyed triumph against West Florida, 72-63, in its first exhibition match on Thursday, Nov. 6.
The team is full of new members, with only senior forward Kevin Thomas and sophomore guard Kelton Ford returning from last season, but that didn’t stop the Trojans from pulling out a win.
“We got a pretty young team experience-wise, and we just tried to fight it out and get a good win,” junior forward John Walton III said.
During the first half, both the Argonauts and the Trojans struggled to make their shots. Troy had a percentage of 44.8, making 13 out of 29 baskets during the first 20 minutes.
West Florida, on the other hand, made only eight out of 25 shots, totaling 32 percent. However, it was the Argonauts who had the lead going into halftime with a mere two points at 32-30.
Four Trojans scored double digits during the game and Walton, who was unable to play during the entire 2013-2014 season, led the team with 15 points.
Freshman guard Wesley Person followed with 12 points, and junior guard Chris Bilbo and senior guard Musa Abdule-Aleem each contributed 11 points to the Trojans’ lead.
In the second half of the game, both teams came out and played with more drive.
“We came out with more energy than we had in the first half because everybody was a little shaky,” Bilbo said. “Everybody was a little nervous, but we got that out in the first half. Coach just kept talking us up, and we came out with a win.”
Overall, West Florida had more offensive and defensive rebounds than Troy, with 11 offensive and 29 defensive. Troy made only nine offensive rebounds, but collected 24 defensive boards.
“We’ve got a tough schedule, and because we have so many new guys, we’re learning on the fly,” head coach Phil Cunningham said. “Again that’s why it was a good opportunity tonight to play against a good team, a well-coached team, but we’ve just gotta work hard.”
It was the number of Troy’s visits to the charity stripe that helped get the win in the end. The Trojans scored 20 out of the 38 attempted free throws, while the Argonauts had nine shots out of 17 opportunities.
Troy was finally able to break away from West Florida after Bilbo shot a three-point buzzer-beater with 1:29 to go, making the score 70-63.
Ford added to the final score on a fast break, wrapping up the game with 37 seconds to spare 72-63.
“It was good that they got to dig in and fight it out and find a way to win,” Cunningham said.
Troy faces Brewton-Parker at home on Friday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. Troy encourages students to “white out” Ole Miss on Monday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. at home.