FIU (13-11) at Troy (10-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 14, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Trojan Arena (6,000) -- Troy, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: FIU 8-3, Troy 7-4. Away Record: FIU 5-8, Troy 2-10. Neutral Record: FIU 0-0, Troy 1-1. Conference Record: FIU 8-7, Troy 5-9. Series Record: FIU leads, 9-6.
GAME NOTES: Both the FIU Panthers and Troy Trojans attempt to bounce back from recent losses, as the two squads meet at Trojan Arena for a Sun Belt Conference tilt on Thursday night.
FIU is in the midst of a solid season at 13-11 overall and 8-7 in conference, but it has been slipping of late with losses in three of its last five games. The Panthers most recently traveled to Denton and fell victim to a record shooting night from North Texas in what wound up being a 77-67 setback.
Meanwhile, Troy hasn't nearly had the type of success as FIU this season, as it is hovering near the bottom of the league standings with a 10-15 overall record, which includes a 5-9 mark in Sun Belt action. The Trojans have lost back-to-back games on the heels of winning three of their previous four, which includes its worst loss of the season last weekend -- 93-41 to first-place Middle Tennessee.
FIU claimed a 61-55 home victory over Troy on Jan. 19 to improve its record in the all-time series to 9-6. The Panthers have defeated the Trojans in four of the last five meetings.
The Panthers pieced together a solid shooting night last Saturday, making 22- of-51 from the field (.431) and 17-of-20 from the foul line (.850), but it didn't matter as they were torched by the Mean Green, who set a single-game program record for field goal percentage (.750). Tymell Murphy did all he could to keep his team in the game, going 10-of-12 from the field for 23 point while adding three steals. Deric Hill made all three of his 3-point attempts en route to 15 points in the setback.
FIU has been strong offensively, scoring the third-most points in the league (69.9 ppg), but it is oftentimes let down by a defensive attack that allows the third-most points (70.6 ppg). Its strength comes in the frontcourt, where Murphy shoots a Sun Belt-best 60.1 percent from the field for 15.5 ppg, adding 7.4 rpg, 1.1 bpg and 1.8 as well. Freshman Jerome Frink is a stellar running mate up front with 10.0 ppg and 6.8 rpg, while Malik Smith does the bulk of his damage out on the perimeter, shooting 70-of-197 from beyond the arc (.355) in averaging 14.2 ppg.
Troy was thoroughly overmatched in its 52-point road loss over the weekend, as it shot just 30.6 percent from the field while allowing Middle Tennessee to connect on 64.4 percent of its total shots. It was also outmanned on the glass, 37-16, and was outscored from the foul line, 25-8. Only Emil Jones reached double figures on the afternoon, shooting 7-of-14 for 16 points.
Scoring points has not been the Trojans' forte this season, as they put up only 62.0 ppg on a league-low 39.8 percent effort from the field. Only Jones puts up double-digits on a nightly basis with 11.6 ppg, although Hunter Williams is on the cusp with 9.7 ppg. Jones contributes across the board with 5.5 rpg, 2.9 apg and 1.7 spg, while Williams has drained 47-of-127 3-point tries (.370) and has nearly twice as many assists (83) as turnovers (48).
FIU hasn't been great away from home, so Troy should be able to stick around and make a game of it, but the Panthers are the more battle-tested bunch, allowing them to gut one out on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: FIU 76, Troy 72
02/14 10:32:28 ET