The Troy men’s basketball team split its last two games with a loss at home to ULM in overtime 58-55 and a victory on the road against UT Arlington 55-54. With that win, the Trojans (8-12, 3-8 Sun Belt) snapped a four-game losing streak.
The Trojans’ first game was on Thursday, Jan. 29, against ULM, which at the time was third in the Sun Belt standings. The Warhawks (13-8, 7-3 Sun Belt) jumped out to a quick 6-0 start, and it seemed as if they might run away with the game early.
Troy battled back, however, and went on a 21-3 run in the first half, as it looked to get out of a three-game slump in conference play. Senior guard Musa Abdul-Aleem led the Trojans with 11 points in the first half, and they went into halftime with a controlling lead, 31-21.
Troy continued to play well to start the second half, as it expanded its lead to 37-24 with 16:49 left in the game. It would be from that point that the Trojans lost control of the game.
The Warhawks went on a 21-7 run in the second half to retake the lead. Junior guard Mack Foster and junior forward Majok Deng both had a total of 15 points during the game to lead ULM as they put the pressure on Troy with their three-point shooting. The Warhawks made six out of 14 shots from beyond the arc, and they forced the game into overtime with the score tied at 50.
Despite falling behind quickly in overtime, the Trojans were able to bounce back and had an opportunity to tie and take the lead after a flagrant foul was called on ULM. However, poor free-throw shooting down the stretch kept the Trojans out of the game, and they lost 58-55.
“I didn’t think we could get a tougher loss than last Saturday, but we trumped it tonight,” said head coach Phil Cunningham. “To have that big lead in the second half and to let them come back is just very frustrating. We put ourselves in a position to win again, but we just didn’t finish.”
The Trojans bounced back from the loss, however, and went on the road on Saturday, Jan. 31, to face UT-Arlington (12-9, 6-5 Sun Belt), which was fourth in the conference standings at the time.
Troy started slow and seemed tired as it fell behind early to the Mavericks, who shot 42.9 percent from the floor. The Trojans seemed unable to generate much offense and were trailing 32-22 going into the locker room.
The second half was a different story, however, as Troy bounced back from the deficit thanks to 10 points from junior forward John Walton III. The Trojans shot 40 percent from the floor to even out the score, and made 11 out of 12 shots from the free throw line to come back and win.
With only three seconds left to play, and down by one, sophomore guard Kelton Ford stepped up to the free-throw line and made two key free throws to secure the win for the Trojans.
The win snapped a four-game skid for Troy, as it improved to 3-8 in conference play. It will look to keep this momentum going as the Trojans go on the road to face Appalachian State on Thursday, Feb. 5. Tipoff is set for 7:30 pm.