FIU struggles again on the road after loss to Troy

Kevin Castaneda/staff writer

The Troy Trojans showed no love on Valentine’s Day  after handing the FIU men’s basketball team their third consecutive road loss, 69-61. It also marked the second game in a row that FIU’s shooting guard Malik Smith was held to only four points.

The game started out extremely slow as neither team was able to score a basket through the first two minutes of play. Troy (11-15, 6-9 SBC) struck first on a layup by Ray Chambers and a three by Hunter Williams. The Panthers (13-12, 8-8 SBC) retaliated with a Tymell Murphy layup and a Smith free-throw.

Williams, who had a game-high 20 points, drained three of his four threes in the first half. His 14 first-half points also gave his Trojans a six-point lead going into the break. The Trojans also did a nice job keeping care of the ball, giving up only three turnovers to the Panthers. This season Troy has been the best in assists to turnover ratio in the Sun Belt Conference, and their seven assists was proof of that.

Murphy opened up the second half of play with a layup. For the next four minutes of play, the two teams kept exchanging baskets. Then at 14-minute mark, a layup by freshman center Jerome Frink ignited an 18-2 run for the Panthers. This gave FIU their first lead of the ball game, 48-42.

Emil Jones, who only had four points in the first half, was not going to lay down that easy. He scored 13 points on 5-for-6 from the free-throw line in the second half. The free throws were pivotal for the Trojans, as they went 13-for-17 from the charity stripe compared to FIU’s 5-for-9.

Both teams had three players in double-digits, but Troy was simply more efficient on the floor. They beat the Panthers in field goal, three-point field goal and free throw percentage. The efficiency helped Troy eke out the eight-point victory late at home.

FIU will be traveling back home to face Western Kentucky (13-13, 7-8 SBC) on Feb. 16. The Panthers lost in their previous meeting against the Hilltoppers, on the road, 76-63. However, the Panthers are 8-3 at home this season, and have won two of their last three at the U.S. Century Bank Arena.