Troy (8-17) at F-I-U (7-19)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 23rd, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: U.S. Century Bank Arena (5,000) -- Miami, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: Troy 6-7, FIU 1-8. Away Record: Troy 2-10, FIU 5-9. Neutral Record: Troy 0-0, FIU 1-2. Conference Record: Troy 3-11, FIU 4-10. Series Record: FIU leads, 6-5.
GAME NOTES: Two of the Sun Belt Conference's worst squads are set to tangle in Miami this evening, as the FIU Golden Panthers play host the Troy Trojans at U.S. Century Bank Arena.
After getting off to a respectable 4-3 start, Troy has fallen flat since, winning just four of its last 18 games and it is currently alone in last place in the East Division of the conference with a 3-11 record. The Trojans have just two wins on the road this season, and they have lost six of their last seven overall, including a 74-62 overtime defeat at the hands of Arkansas- Little Rock last Saturday.
FIU has been even worse than Troy this year, posting an overall record of 7-19, although it has fared marginally better in conference, sitting one game ahead of the Trojans with a 4-10 league ledger. Amazingly, the Golden Panthers have won just one game in nine tries at U.S. Century Bank Arena. After winning back-to-back bouts to start February, FIU has dropped four straight, with its latest setback coming against Arkansas State last Saturday, 77-67.
After 11 all-time meetings, FIU has a 6-5 advantage over Troy. The Golden Panthers have won the last two meetings to retake the series lead, which includes a 63-50 triumph in Troy on February 2.
While Troy ranks just sixth in the Sun Belt in three-point field goal percentage (.342), they hit long-range shots at an amazing rate, ranking fifth nationally in three-pointers made (8.9 per game) and they have attempted 60 treys more than any other team in the conference. The Trojans struggled with the three-ball in the loss to UALR last Saturday however, connecting on just 6-of-20 attempts, and a mere 19-of-51 field goal tries overall as they fell in overtime. Alan Jones paced the squad with 17 points and he now averages just under 10 ppg for the season. Troy's three-point attack leads to the third-best scoring offense in the conference (70.3 ppg) and it has a balanced attack with five players averaging at least 8.8 ppg, led by Will Weathers (11.5 ppg, 5.7 apg) and Justin Wright (11 ppg). Troy's Achilles' Heel comes at the other end of the court, where it gives up 75.3 ppg on 46.4 percent shooting from the field -- both figures ranking last in the league.
FIU continues to lose games despite boasting three of the top scorers in the Sun Belt. DeJuan Wright (15.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg), Phil Taylor (14 ppg, 3.2 apg) and Jeremy Allen (13.6 ppg) are all top-10 scorers in the conference, but it is rare that all three gel together in the same game. Last Saturday's loss to Arkansas State was a perfect example, as Taylor impressed with 17 points on 6- of-10 from the field, but Wright (3-of-11 for 13 points) and Allen (nine points) under-performed. The supporting cast behind that trio is nearly non- existent as FIU averages just 62.4 ppg, ranking ahead of only last-place ULM in the conference. Though the Golden Panthers have a respectable defense (66.7 ppg), they are hurt by falling in the red in both rebounding margin (-1.9) and turnover margin (-0.50).
Playing in Miami has proven to mean nothing in terms of home court advantage this season for the Golden Panthers, and with Troy's potentially deadly three- point attack, expect the Trojans to get their revenge after losing to FIU earlier this month.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Troy 72, FIU 65
02/23 10:37:02 ET