South Alabama (16-11) at Troy (11-19)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 2, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Trojan Arena (4,000) -- Troy, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: USA 10-3, Troy 8-6. Away Record: USA 6-6, Troy 2-12. Neutral Record: USA 0-2, Troy 1-1. Conference Record: USA 13-6, Troy 6-13. Series Record: South Alabama leads, 14-6.
GAME NOTES: The 2012-13 regular season comes to a close on Saturday night for the South Alabama Jaguars and the Troy Trojans, as the two squads meet in a Sun Belt Conference tilt at Trojan Arena.
South Alabama has enjoyed a solid season, as it sits at 16-11 overall, and at 13-6 in the SBC, it is locked into the No. 3 seed in next week's conference tournament. The Jaguars traveled to Bowling Green on Thursday to do battle with Western Kentucky, and came away with a 79-73 loss to fall to 6-6 on the road this season.
Meanwhile, Troy (11-19) has experienced nearly the opposite fate as South Alabama this season, as it boasts an inverse league ledger of 6-13, and depending on Saturday's results, it is looking at either the ninth or tenth seed in the SBC Tournament. The Trojans lost to first-place Middle Tennessee on Thursday, 66-56, and they have dropped four in a row since head coach Don Maestri registered his 499th career win on Feb. 14.
South Alabama has defeated Troy four straight times, including 65-62 at home on Feb. 7, to improve its lead in the all-time series to 14-6.
After WKU ripped off a 14-2 run midway through the first half to gain control of the game, South Alabama never again held the lead, as it was outshot from the field, 48.2 percent to 41.1 percent, on its way to a six-point setback. Augustine Rubit was stellar in defeat, shooting 8-of-18 from the field and 7- of-7 from the foul line for 23 points, to go along with nine rebounds and three steals. Javier Carter was also a menace in the paint, tallying 14 points, 10 boards, six blocks and three steals, while Dre Conner and Antoine Allen each tallied 12 points. On the season, the Jaguars are fortunate enough to have the fourth-ranked scoring offense in the conference (69.4 ppg), although it is sometimes hindered by a scoring defense that ranks in the lower-half of the league (68.3 ppg). Rubit is on the short-list for SBC Player of the Year consideration, as he is averaging 19.1 ppg, 10.8 rpg and 1.3 bpg, while boasting impressive percentages from the field (.480) and the foul line (.793). USA can compete with any team in the SBC down low, with Mychal Ammons (11.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.0 bpg) and Carter (6.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.4 bpg) acting as strong complements to Rubit.
Troy was no match for the mighty Blue Raiders on Thursday night, as it fell behind by as many as 19 points in the second half before making a run late to make the final score somewhat respectable. The Trojans shot a lowly 37 percent from the field, although Ray Chambers impressed by going 7-of-10 for 17 points. Tevin Calhoun added 11 points off the bench, while Antoine Myers pitched in with 10 points and four assists. Troy's offense has been nothing short of futile this season, as it ranks in the bottom-two in the SBC rankings in scoring offense (61.8 ppg), scoring margin (-5.0), field goal percentage (.397) and 3-point field goal percentage (.310). To make matters worse, the team also gets outrebounded by an average of 3.2 rpg. Emil Jones, who will be playing his final home game in this one, is the team's top playmaker with 10.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.9 apg and 1.7 spg. Hunter Williams is the unit's only other double-digit scorer with 10.5 ppg, although he shoots just 37 percent from the field.
With South Alabama locked into its postseason seeding, it is possible for Troy to sneak up on the Jags as they begin to look forward to the tournament. The Trojans aren't the most talented team, but as they honor their seniors and attempt once again to get their coach his 500th career win, they'll dig down deep to pull this one out.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Troy 66, South Alabama 65
03/02 10:39:22 ET