Arkansas State (11-7) at Troy (7-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 24, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Trojan Arena (6,000) -- Troy, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: ASU 8-2, Troy 5-4. Away Record: ASU 3-5, Troy 1-7. Neutral Record: ASU 0-0, Troy 1-1. Conference Record: ASU 5-4, Troy 2-6. Series Record: Arkansas State leads, 5-3.
GAME NOTES: The Troy Trojans play host to the Arkansas State Red Wolves on Thursday night in a Sun Belt Conference showdown.
Arkansas State snapped a two-game losing streak last Saturday by logging its most convincing Sun Belt decision of the season in a 63-39 home win over ULM. The Red Wolves have won four of their last five on their home floor, improving to 11-7 overall and 5-4 in league play.
Troy embarked on a two-game road trip to the Sunshine State last week and came away with a pair of losses to Florida Atlantic (80-59) and FIU (61-55) to fall to 2-6 in conference. The Trojans have lost 10 of their last 13 games, and while they certainly welcome a return home, Trojan Arena has hardly been a safe haven this year (5-4).
The Red Wolves have defeated Troy in back-to-back matchups and now lead the all-time series, 5-3.
Arkansas State rode an outstanding defensive performance to its latest victory, holding ULM 36.7 percent field goal shooting and forcing 19 turnovers. The 39 points allowed to the Warhawks being the fewest it has yielded to an opponent since 1996. It was a modest offensive effort by the Red Wolves, as they shot 41.8 percent from the floor, and were led by Trey Finn with 17 points. Finn became the 24th player in school history to net 1,000 career points. Ed Townsel shot just 5-of-16 from the field for 13 points, while Brandon Peterson tallied a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. ASU has been strong at both ends of the floor this season, as it is one of only two Sun Belt squads to rank in the top five in both scoring offense (69.2 ppg) and scoring defense (63.5 ppg). Townsel shoots less than 40 percent from the field, but he generates enough volume to rank fourth in the conference with 15.4 ppg. Peterson is a threat for a double-double every night, sporting 11.0 ppg and 9.4 rpg, while adding more than a block and a steal per contest at the defensive end.
Troy led by as many as eight points with less than 10 minutes to play in the second half against FIU, but it slowly lost control of the game down the stretch and was eventually saddled with a six-point loss. The team's biggest issue was an inefficient night from 3-point range (6-of-21), which has become a common theme. The Trojans have attempted more long-range shots than any other Sun Belt squad (424), but they only connect on 30.7 percent of those shots. Emil Jones was solid in the setback, shooting 5-of-10 from the floor and 8-of-11 from the foul line for 18 points, while R.J. Scott finished with 11. Troy's shooting woes have resulted in the second-worst scoring offense in the conference (61.6 ppg), and only Jones nets double figures on a consistent basis with 10.9 ppg. Jones, Hunter Williams (8.8 ppg) and Antoine Myers (8.7 ppg) have combined for 116 assists (6.1 pg), and Ray Chambers (6.8 ppg) grabs a team-high 6.0 rpg.
Troy certainly has a chance to feed off the energy in its home building and put together a strong shooting effort, but its season-long cold streak isn't expected to end against a balanced Arkansas State squad.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas State 72, Troy 65
01/24 10:34:23 ET