Middle Tennessee (25-4) at Troy (11-18)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 28, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Trojan Arena (4,000) -- Troy, Alabama.
Television: None. Home Record: MT 16-0, Troy 8-5. Away Record: MT 9-3, Troy
2-12. Neutral Record: MT 0-1, Troy 1-1. Conference Record: MT 17-1, Troy 6-12.
Series Record: Middle Tennessee leads, 11-7.
GAME NOTES: Two teams at opposite ends of the Sun Belt Conference West
Division standings meet in the penultimate game of the regular season, as the
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders come calling on the Troy Trojans.
Middle Tennessee had already clinched first place and the No. 1 seed in the
SBC Tournament heading into last Saturday's home finale, but it still pulled
off an dominating 87-46 victory versus ULM. The Blue Raiders have now won 14
straight games to improve to 25-4 overall and 17-1 in conference.
Meanwhile, Troy hasn't had much to cheer about this season, as it is only
11-18 overall and 6-12 in league play. Following a 69-61 win over FIU on Feb.
14, Trojans' head coach Don Maestri recorded his 499th career win, but they
have failed to notched his milestone 500th win in any of the last three games,
with their most recent defeat coming at Arkansas State last Saturday, 58-50.
Middle Tennessee made easy work of Troy on Feb. 9, 93-41, to extend its lead
in the all-time series to 11-7.
The Blue Raiders sprinted out to a commanding 46-15 lead at the half against
ULM the last time out, and put it in cruise control from there to extend their
lengthy winning streak. They shot a lofty 52.6 percent from the field in the
contest, including 12-of-28 from 3-point range, with Tweety Knight coming off
the bench to lead the way with 15 points. Torin Walker also took advantage of
extended playing time off the pine with 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the
field, while Marcos Knight and Raymond Cintron chipped in 11 points apiece.
Middle Tennessee has not only controlled the Sun Belt in the standings, but
also in the statistics, as it ranks first in the league in scoring offense
(71.6 ppg), scoring defense (57.3 ppg), field goal percentage (.463), 3-point
field goal percentage (.384), field goal percentage defense (.395), assists
(14.5 pg) and rebounding margin (+6.2). Knight (12.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg) is the
team's only double-digit scorer, but it possesses a deep rotation of reserves,
with nine others scoring at least 3.9 ppg.
The Trojans dug themselves a huge hole in the first half of their recent tilt
against Arkansas State by scoring just 14 points in the opening 20 minutes,
and they would never recover on their way to an eight-point defeat. The team
finished the game shooting a woeful 19-of-65 from the field (.292), which
included just three 3-pointers on 20 attempts. Antoine Myers was solid in
defeat, scoring a career-high 21 points, while Hunter Williams netted 10
points. Unlike Middle Tennessee, Troy hasn't been especially impressive at
either end of the court this season, scoring just 62.0 ppg (on a league-low
.398 field goal percentage) while surrendering 66.8 ppg to its opponents. Emil
Jones is the team's top scoring option with 11.2 ppg and he also chips in
elsewhere with 5.5 rpg, 3.0 apg and 1.6 spg. Williams brings 10.6 ppg and 3.2
apg, doing much of his damage from 3-point range (57-of-151).
Troy will attempt to build some momentum with two straight home games to close
out the season before the SBC Tournament starts next week, but it will likely
have a difficult time doing so against the Blue Raiders, who have proven to be
the most dangerous team in the conference. Middle Tennessee's balanced attack
should have no problem poking holes in the Trojans defense in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Middle Tennessee 74, Troy 60
02/28 10:36:29 ET
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