East Tennessee State basketball coach Murry Bartow expects Troy to have a slightly different look tonight than when the teams met 10 days ago.
When ETSU beat the Trojans 81-71 at the Minidome, Troy was missing its point guard Will Weathers, who was sidelined with an ankle injury.
Weathers will be back in action tonight and he’s coming off a big game. He scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half — including his team’s final 11 — as Troy beat Southern Utah 80-76 in its last outing.
“Any time you lose your point guard, it’s gonna change the feel of your team,” Bartow said. “If you’re Troy and you’ve got your point guard back and you’re playing at home, you have to feel a little better.”
Bartow says his team is feeling pretty good these days, something an early-season three game winning streak can cause.
“The guys are pretty healthy for the most part and the attitude is good,” Bartow said. “We’ve won our last three games, so we feel pretty good right now. Now we’ve got the next three real quick on the road. It’s an important week for us.”
After the rematch with Troy, the Bucs open Atlantic Sun Conference play with a couple of games on the road. They play at Stetson on Thursday and at Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday.
Tonight will be the second of six consecutive road games for the Bucs. They started the road swing with a thrilling 70-69 victory over Charlotte last week as Jarvis Jones’ 3-pointer barely beat the buzzer.
The first meeting with Troy was Marcus Dubose’s coming out party as the lightning-quick junior college transfer scored 27 points. Dubose added 26 against Charlotte.
Dubose has increased his average to 17.8 points a game, second in the Atlantic Sun Conference to Kennesaw State’s Markeith Cummings’ 18.3
Senior forward Tommy Hubbard has come on after a slow opening game, raising his scoring average to 13.0. Senior forward Isiah Brown averages 12.3. Senior point guard Adam Sollazzo is tied with Kerron Johnson of Belmont for the A-Sun lead in assists at 5.5 per game.
Weathers leads the 2-3 Trojans, averaging 14.0 points a game. R.J. Scott averages 13.6 and 3-point specialist Alan Jones averages 12.0 in a reserve role. Jones is 14 of 32 from 3-point range on a team that likes to shoot deep. Troy averages better than 10 3-pointers a game and shoots 41 percent from beyond the arc.
“They made 11 threes against us, but they shoot a lot of threes,” Bartow said. “We’re gonna have to defend the threes.”
The Bucs threatened to blow Troy out of the Dome in the previous meetings, but the Trojans used a late 21-6 run to make the final score respectable.
“We didn’t finish the game very good,” Bartow said.
“The last eight minutes was dominated by them. Fortunately, we played really well the first 32 minutes.”
Troy is a former member of the A-Sun, winning four men’s basketball titles under coach Don Maestri, who has been at the helm since 1982. It’s now in the Sun Belt Conference.