Troy (8-15) at Arkansas State (10-17)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 16th, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (10,529) -- Jonesboro, Arkansas. Television: None. Home Record: Troy 6-6, Arkansas State 8-5. Away Record: Troy 2-9, Arkansas State 2-12. Neutral Record: Troy 0-0, Arkansas State 0-0. Conference Record: Troy 3-9, Arkansas State 4-8. Series Record: Troy leads 5-2.
GAMES NOTES: Troy will be trying to put back-to-back wins together for the first time since November when the Trojans invade the Convocation Center for a Sun Belt Conference matchup with Arkansas State.
On Saturday Troy snapped a four-game losing streak with an 83-77 victory over Western Kentucky. The losing streak tied a season-high for the Trojans who are just 2-6 since the new year and 3-9 in the Sun Belt which is the worst record in the East Division. Troy will play its last home game of the season when it hosts Arkansas-Little Rock next time out.
Arkansas State extended its current slide to three games by falling 68-65 in overtime to Louisiana on Saturday. The Red Wolves have a 4-8 record against conference opponents which is better than only 1-11 ULM in the West Division. Arkansas State will also play its final home game this season with a matchup against Florida International next on the schedule.
The Trojans have been the better team in the short- lived history between these squads with a 5-2 record against Arkansas State. The Red Wolves won last years meeting and bookend that with a victory in the first ever meeting between these school.
Troy stormed back in the second half to erase a 39-30 halftime deficit to Western Kentucky on Saturday. After allowing the Hilltoppers to shoot 50.0 percent from the floor in the opening period, the Trojans clamped down on defense and limited Western Kentucky to 32.4 percent shooting the rest of the way. Troy also went 15-of-18 from the free throw line in the second half and outscored the Hilltoppers 22-16 overall from the charity stripe.
Scoring has not been a problem for the Trojans this season unfortunately it hasn't been a problem for Troy's opponents either. The Trojans are the second highest scoring team in the conference at 71.1 points per game, while allowing a generous 75.0 points per game. Junior guard Will Weathers (11.7 ppg, 5.9 apg) is the centerpiece of the offense as the team's leading scorer and passer. Weathers is one of the conference's top point guards as he averages the most assists per game in the conference. Weathers was right on average scoring 12 points and dishing out six helpers against Western Kentucky. After Weathers the Trojans have a number of scorers that can get into double digits. Justin Wright (11.3 ppg), Emil Jones (9.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg), Alan Jones (9.6 ppg) and R. J. Scott (9.0 ppg) are all averaging in or near double digits and each did so against Western Kentucky with Alan Jones scoring a team-high 18 points.
Arkansas State let a 34-29 halftime lead disappear and trailed 58-55 going into its final possession. Marcus Hooten then hit a clutch three-pointer with seven seconds remaining and after a missed go-ahead try from Louisiana the game went to overtime. The Red Wolves ran out of gas in the extra frame and the Ragin' Cajuns went 4-of-4 from the free throw line down the stretch to earn the win.
Like Troy, the Red Wolves do not rely on one or two dominant scorers but rather a wide spread offensive effort. Senior forward Malcoln Kirkland (12.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg) is the lead scorer on the season and filled that role by netting 16 against Louisiana. Hooten (11.3 ppg) is the only other player averaging in double figures this season but had done so only once in the previous six games before putting up 14 points against Louisiana. Guards Trey Finn (9.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Edward Townsel (9.6 ppg) add further scoring in the backcourt while leading rebounder Brandon Peterson (9.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg) adds depth in the paint with Kirkland. Unfortunately the balance really ends there as no other player averages more than 4.0 points per game for the Red Wolves whose offense lags behind most of the conference scoring just 62.8 points per game which is ninth in the 12 team conference.
Both of these teams have balanced offenses but it is Arkansas State that has the stronger scorers on its side in Kirkland and Hooten. With that added to the team's decent 8-5 record at home, the Red Wolves should earn the win in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas State 68, Troy 62
02/16 10:36:32 ET