Troy pulls away to beat Jags at Mitchell Center
MOBILE, Ala. - The Troy men's basketball team went on a 20-5 run late in the first half and never trailed again in a 79-64 victory against the University of South Alabama Saturday afternoon at the Mitchell Center.
The Trojans trailed by eight when they began their run on a 3-pointer from Wesley Person. Eight unanswered points gave them the lead for the first time, then after junior Rodrick Sikes gave the Jaguars the lead back with two free throws, Troy reeled off a 9-2 burst - with six points from the foul line - to take a 27-21 advantage.
South Alabama outscored Troy 10-5 over a six-minute span to cut the deficit to 52-46 midway through the second half, but the Trojans answered with a 19-6 run in five minutes to put the game away.
Alex Hicks led Troy with 30 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks. Sikes had a team-high 18 points and three assists for the Jags.
- South Alabama scored the first seven points of the contest and used free throws from Sikes and sophomore Josh Ajayi to go up 15-7 with 12:05 left
- Person hit a '3' at the 10:50 mark to start their 20-5 run that saw the Trojans go 4 for 6 from the floor, 3 for 3 from 3-point land, and 9 for 11 from the foul line
- The Trojans took their first 10-point lead early in the second half after Jordon Varnado and Hicks combined for all eight points in an 8-2 run
- A free throw from sophomore Jordan Andrews with 10:46 to play made it a 52-46 contest, but Hicks hit three straight shots to start the 19-6 rally
- Hicks accounted for 11 of those points on 4-for-4 shooting, and Troy outrebounded South Alabama 6-0 during that span
- Sophomore Herb McGee recorded 15 points, and sophomore Kevin Morris set a new career high with 14 points, and added six rebounds
- Today was Troy's biggest win in Mobile since Jan. 15, 2009
- Three of the Trojans last four wins in the series have come in Mobile
- South Alabama's two 3-pointers and 11.1 percentage are a new season low
- USA shot 52.2 percent from the floor in the second half, including 66.7 percent (12 for 18) inside the arc
- Senior Nick Davis grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds, one shy of his career high
- Hicks' 30 points tie the most by a USA opponent this season
THEY SAID IT
Head Coach Matthew Graves
Opening statement: "Congratulations to Troy. I thought they were the better coached team. They were the tougher team. Clearly, they came in to play with a chip on their shoulder and get a road win, and that's exactly what they did. It's really frustrating because I didn't have the guys ready to play like they needed to, and that's on me. We've got to do a better job, starting Monday, of finding guys who are willing to play with grit and toughness and really want to fight. Today, we let their physicality get the ball in the post, and we talked to the team about toughness plays. And one of the things I looked at is toughness is simply making free throws. That is a toughness thing. We did not do that. It's not just blocking out and diving on the floor for loose balls; those are toughness plays as well. But the willingness to execute are toughness plays, and we did not make very many of them at all."
On 3-point shooting woes: "It doesn't have to be that way. Getting to the free-throw line 32 times is a good thing. We've got to convert a lot more than 18 out of 32. If you make half of the 14 misses, that's seven points you leave on the board right there. I don't think we're going to have very many nights where we go 2 for 18 (from 3-point land), but when you do, you've got to drive the ball, and we did get to the free-throw line. Overall, we just didn't play with the pop that we've had in the past."
On the performance by the bigs: "I thought Kevin and Nick did a nice job offensively. Kevin shot the ball well around the rim. He rebounded it. He was aggressive. Nick Davis getting nine defensive rebounds is outstanding. That's what he can do for us. Unfortunately, we had some other guys that did not step up and play with any sort of physicality. We allowed Alex Hicks to have an absolute career night. He was outstanding for them."
On Hicks' big night: "He was able to catch the ball wherever he wanted to. He was able to bounce it without our guards digging to help a little bit. He was a lot more physical. He wanted it more. He was more determined. He more of a will. He was stronger. He just dominated our bigs, and it was absolutely embarrassing."
South Alabama stays at home for a clash with Coastal Carolina on Thursday at 7:05 p.m.