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Emil Jones' mid-range jumper with 1.6 seconds left broke a tie and sealed the game for Troy, as the Trojans took down Mississippi State, 56-53, in the first ever game at the new Trojan Arena. 5,120 fans packed the arena to see the Trojans take down the Bulldogs for the first time in 10 meetings.
"You only get one opportunity to get the first win in a new building," said head coach Don Maestri. "We talked about this in our team meeting last night, that people were going to have to step up against Mississippi State, and we had guys that did that."
Jones would go on to finish with 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Tevin Calhoun led the Trojans with 12 points, on 4-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc. The 53 points scored by the Bulldogs are the fewest allowed by the Trojans since March 8, 2010, when Troy defeated Western Kentucky, 54-48, in the second round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
Troy was plagued by foul trouble all night, with Ray Chambers and Josh Warren, two of Troy's big men, fouling out in the second half.
The Bulldogs erased a 16-point first-half deficit to tie the score with 1:08 left in the game. After one failed possession by each team, the Trojans got the ball with 27 seconds to play. Jones took the ball in to the free throw line, pump faked, and drained the game-winner. Following a turnover on the inbounds pass by the Bulldogs, R.J. Scott hit 1-of-2 free throws to put Troy up by three.
The Trojans got out to a slow start, but a 15-2 run midway through the first half gave Troy a 22-10 lead with 7:09 left. Jeff Mullahey got the scoring started with a three, followed by a pair of 3-pointers by Calhoun. Warren played his role on the defensive end, drawing two key offensive fouls to keep the streak alive. Mullahey hit another 3-pointer from deep, followed by a lay-in by Warren after a great cut from the top of the key to close out the run.
The teams matched each other the rest of the half, ending with the Trojans leading, 32-22 at the break.
The Trojans returns to the court on Monday, when they travel to College Station, Texas, to face Texas A&M as part of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.