Troy (7-11) at FIU (9-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 19, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: U.S. Century Bank Arena (5,000) -- Miami, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: Troy 5-4, FIU 5-2. Away Record: Troy 1-6, FIU 4-6. Neutral Record: Troy 1-1, FIU 0-0. Conference Record: Troy 2-5, FIU 4-4. Series Record: FIU leads, 8-6.
GAME NOTES: The Troy Trojans wrap up their trek through the Sunshine State on Saturday night, as they square off against the FIU Panthers at U.S. Century Bank Arena in Miami.
Troy had recently won back-to-back games over Arkansas-Little Rock (67-64) and ULM (64-55), but it went back to its losing ways in Thursday night's bout with Florida Atlantic as it fell by a convincing 80-59 margin. The Trojans are now just 7-11 overall and 2-5 in the Sun Belt, and many of those struggles have come on the road where they have lost six of seven.
After starting the season a lackluster 4-7, FIU has come on of late with wins in five of its six contests here in 2013. The Panthers suffered an 88-76 loss to Arkansas-Little Rock on Jan. 12, but they bounced back with a 70-64 home win over North Texas on Thursday night to improve to 5-2 at U.S. Century Bank Arena.
With regard to the all-time series, FIU holds an 8-6 advantage over Troy, although the Trojans won the last matchup, 75-70, in overtime on Feb. 23, 2012, to snap a three-game losing streak to the Panthers.
The Trojans cut their deficit to just four points at the half in their latest game against FAU, but they lost control after intermission on their way to the 21-point defeat. It wasn't Troy's worst performance, as it made a modest 43.1 percent of its field goal attempts, but only 3-of-14 shots from 3-point range found the bottom of the net, and it had a quiet night from the foul line (6- of-9) as well. The bench shined in the setback, as Antoine Myers (15 points) and Emil Jones (10 points, seven rebounds) both saw extended minutes. Struggles at the offensive end have become the norm for Troy this season, as it scores just 62.0 ppg on a lowly 39 percent effort from the field. It is heavily-reliant on the 3-pointer, as it attempts more than 22 long-range shots per game, but converts only 30.8 percent of the time. Jones has been relegated to a reserve role in recent weeks, but he's still the team's leading scorer at 10.5 ppg. Myers pitches in with 9.2 ppg on more than 50 percent from the field, while Ray Chambers (7.5 ppg) grabs a team-best 6.0 rpg.
North Texas climbed back in the game late to make the final score appear closer than it was, but in actuality FIU thoroughly controlled the bout, as it led by as many as 18 points in the second half. Although the Panthers shot just 40.6 percent from the field, it launched 21 more shots than did the Mean Green by grabbing 14 offensive rebounds and winning the turnover battle, 23-15. Tymell Murphy made 11-of-16 attempts from the floor in the win for 22 points, and while Malik Story was off the mark with his shot (3-of-12), but still managed to produce 17 points thanks to an 8-of-10 showing at the foul line. Cameron Bell chipped in with 12 points and four steals, while Jerome Frink rounded out a balanced effort with 10 rebounds and three blocks. Murphy tallies 15.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg and more than a block per contest, all while leading the Sun Belt in field goal percentage (.596). Smith scores 14.5 ppg and is a threat from beyond the arc with 52 3-pointers, while Frink tacks on 10.1 ppg and 7.3 rpg. FIU has been solid at the offensive end of the floor this season with 69.8 ppg, but it oftentimes falls victim to a weak defensive effort (72.0 ppg).
Troy isn't bashful in its love of the 3-pointer, and if it ever finds its stroke it has the ability to beat any team in the Sun Belt. But considering how poor it has played on the road this season, don't expect that breakout game to come in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: FIU 70, Troy 63
01/19 11:05:39 ET