The Troy men’s basketball team split its pair of weekend home games with a 90-63 loss on Thursday, Jan. 14, to the University of Texas at Arlington and a 66-57 win over Texas State on Saturday, Jan. 16.
With their win against Texas State, the Trojans (6-11, 1-5) snapped a six-game losing streak and also picked up their elusive first Sun Belt win.
On Thursday, freshman forward Jordon Varnado helped Troy off to a good start against the Mavericks (13-2, 4-0) by scoring 13 points in the first 12 minutes of the game, giving the home team a 29-14 lead in the first half. However, the Trojans struggled to connect on their next 14 attempts, scoring only once during that stretch. The Mavericks fared better, connecting on 10 of 16 attempts, ending the first half of the game in the lead at 40-33.
After halftime, the Trojans continued to struggle to score, connecting only eight of 34 field goal attempts in the final 20 minutes of play. The Mavericks shot the ball significantly better than Troy in the contest, particularly from beyond the arc. UT-Arlington shot 48.6 percent from the field, including 14 of 35 shooting from three-point range.
Although the game was a tough loss for the Trojans, they came back stronger for their next game against Texas State.
The Trojans started off their second match at home with much better execution of offense, and put themselves in the lead 11 – 2. The Bobcats soon caught up, however, and by midway through the first period, the teams were neck and neck. After a close first half, Troy eventually pulled out ahead with a 30 – 26 lead at half time.
The score continued to stay close as the second half unfolded, but the home team was able to come out on top, wrapping up the game at 66 – 57. The Trojans were led by sophomore guard Wesley Person, who scored 23 points and senior forward John Walton III, who recorded a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The victory was no easy feat, as the Bobcats are known for their tough defense.
“If you ask any coach in this league who is the toughest man-to-man defensive team in this league, I think without a doubt everybody would say Texas State,” Troy head coach Phil Cunningham said. “So I think to shoot 49 percent against those guys is really good.
“The rebounding was the difference in the game. They were plus 12 at South Alabama on Thursday. The guy who stood out to me was John Walton, who took the loss on Thursday personal.”
The Trojans are set to hit the road again to take on UL-Monroe on Thursday, Jan 21. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.