While Troy lost on the road against Western Kentucky, 81-76, on Thursday, Feb. 13, they gave ESPN2 a show when they defeated Georgia State, 85-81, at home on Saturday, Feb. 15.
The road game against No. 2 in Sun Belt was a game of too little too late. The Trojans were never able to overtake the Hilltoppers and could not even tie the lead.
“We never could seem to make a timely shot until the end,” said head coach Phil Cunningham. “Then all of a sudden we put the NFL 2-minute drill on and they started falling.”
WKU outrebounded Troy 42-31 and had a free throw percentage of 87.5, making 28 at the charity stripe out of 32.
Meanwhile Troy’s free throw percentage was 70.8, scoring 17 out of 24 possible points. Senior guard Hunter Williams was the leading scorer with 22 points. He also made six 3-pointers out of 10 attempts.
Three other players were in the double digits as well. Senior guard Antoine Myers racked up 15 points while junior forward Kevin Thomas and freshman guard Kelton Ford both contributed 13 points.
During the second half, Troy came back with fire scoring 18 field goals, eight 3-pointers, and eight free throws but still came up short at the end of the game.
It was a different story when the Trojans faced down Georgia State at the Trojan Arena where an eager crowd and ESPN2 watched on Saturday.
The Panthers had to swallow their first loss in the Sun Belt Conference thanks to an outstanding night by senior guard Jeff Mullahey who scored a career-high of 27 points.
“That was a character win,” Cunningham said. “Our team has worked and really fought all year long. They’ve been so consistent in terms of their effort and attitude, and they’ve gone through some ups and downs, but they never quit working and they never quit believing. To come out tonight, it was just a tremendous win.”
The Trojans took the lead at 17:39 in the game and never looked back. Although the Panthers were close at times and tied the game 75-75 with only 2:41 to go, Troy snatched this glimmer of hope away with a basket from Myers and then Mullahey added to this lead by making a free throw and a 3-pointer.
Georgia State would try to close the gap as the clock ticked down but Troy would always keep ahead by a few points.
It was a particularly rough game between the two teams but Troy capitalized on the fouls and had a free throw percentage of 63.9, keeping about even with Georgia State who had 69.2 percent.
Troy outrebounded Georgia State 39-32. Thanks to the Trojans determination, there were several times a 3-pointer or a shot was not made the first time then someone would rebound and score.
Senior forward Tevin Calhoun had a double-double for the night, making 11 total boards and 20 points. Antoine Myers also reached the double digits adding 15 points to the lead.
Throughout the game the crowd roared, cheered and chanted the Trojans on, drowning out the small group of Panther supporters who were present.
“I’m happy that everybody came out,” Calhoun said. “We just wanted to come in and be aggressive. We wanted to show everyone that we can compete with anyone in the conference and I think tonight we just did that. The crowd definitely helped, defensively, your adrenaline is rushing.”
Troy hits the road to play the Ragin’ Cajuns in Louisiana at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20. Next they will play South Alabama at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22. The Trojans return home next Thursday, Feb. 27, to face down the Red Wolves at 7 p.m.