Marshall no match for Troy in 82-66 setback

— By David Walsh

The Marshall men’s basketball team saw firsthand why Troy has a share of the lead in the Sun Belt Conference standings.

“They punched us in the mouth and we didn’t punch back,” Thundering Herd coach Dan D’Antoni said on his post-game radio show.

Troy (16-8, 10-2 SBC) took the lead for good at 9-8 on a three-point shot by Thomas Dowd with 15:26 left in the first half. The lead would just grow from there, get as high as 27 in the second half before the Herd rallied a bit, but the Trojans regained the momentum late and won, 82-66, at Trojan Arena in Troy, Ala.

Texas State knocked off Applachian State, 63-56, Wednesday in San Marcos, Texas, to put the Mountaineers at 10-2 in the SBC also and 19-5 overall.

D’Antoni made his point by reading the stat sheet to those listening. Points off turnovers: Troy 23-10. Second-chance points: Troy 21-5. Points in the paint: Troy 42-20. Fast break points: Troy 20-9. Rebounds: Troy 49-38 with 19 on offense.

“That’s all hustle,” D’Antoni stressed. “In the second half we played a little better, a little stronger. We scored better. It’s just hustle. It’s a physical game and we weren’t as physical as they were. They played exactly like we knew they would.”

Marshall (11-12, 7-5 SBC) staged a mini-rally in the second half. Once down 60-33, the Herd closed to within 15 at 68-53 with 6:11 left on a basket by Kevon Voyles. The Trojans called time to settle down. Out of the timeout, Aamer Muhammad nailed a three and Myles Rigsby got a basket with 4:53 left to raise the spread back to 20 (73-53) and they kept the upper hand from there.

Rigsby, a 6-foot-6 freshman, led the Trojans with 19 points. Muhammad added 17, Tayton Conerway 13 and Dowd, another freshman, 12.

“We won this game in the latter part of the first half,” Trojans coach Scott Cross said. “We took a lead. Marshall battled back. They did not give up.”

The win is No. 301 for Cross in his career.

Voyles led Marshall with 16 points. Nate Martin added 11 along with 11 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season. He also had a career-high five of the Herd’s eight blocked shots. Martin’s father, Josh, made the trip over from Texas to see his son play.

Obinna Anochili-Killen contributed 11 and Kamdyn Curfman 10. Anochili-Killen, the team’s top scorer at 16.5 per game, made just 4-of-12 shots and sat much of the first half with two fouls.

Marshall is one of two Sun Belt teams off this weekend. The Herd’s next game is February 15 at Appalachian State.

Troy takes on Kent State at home in the Mid-American-Sun Belt Challenge.

D’Antoni said his team has plenty to reflect on this week in practice.

“Outtalented? No,” D’Antoni said. “They outplayed us. I hope this taught us how hard you have to play. Defensively we didn’t step up like we should. They beat us on rebounds, get 19 on offense. They win, you are not. All the way through the team. It’s hard to play at this level. I’ve got to see the fight in them. I didn’t see us press the issue. You learn a lesson. This is a tough one. Things can be solved.”

Troy ran its win streak to five and home win streak to 11. The Trojans are 13-1 at home. That equals the most home wins in a season when they went 13-0 in 1992-93.

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