LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – Jeremy Hollimon hit clutch shot after clutch shot down the stretch and Troy prevailed 78-69 over Little Rock on Monday night for Troy’s first win against Little Rock since Jan. 11, 2014.
Troy (11-10, 3-4) led just 68-67 with 2:32 to go before Hollimon was fouled on a shot attempt by the basket. The senior went to the line and calmly sank two free throws to push Troy’s lead out to 70-67.
On the ensuing possession, Oliver Black coughed the ball up to give it right back to Troy. Hollimon immediately made Little Rock (12-8, 3-4) pay by draining a 3-pointer just left of the key as the shot clock expired to extend the lead to 73-67 with 1:53 to go.
It wasn’t the end, however, for Little Rock as just 16 seconds later Deondre Burns made two free throws to cut the deficit to four.
Hollimon had a chance to potentially ice the contest, but he missed a jumper with 1:06 left to return the ball to Little Rock. In the end, that miss would prove to be irrelevant as Little Rock’s next possession ended with a jumper off the rim by Marcus Johnson, Jr., who was Little Rock’s leading scorer with 16.
This time Hollimon would make his shots count as he was fouled and sank two free throws to give Troy a six-point lead. Little Rock wouldn’t score again as Troy closed the game out on three free throws—two of which were by Hollimon—to earn the victory.
Troy got into a hole early on the road as the away Trojans shot just 1-7 from the field to start the game. Little Rock led from the start of the game until the 7:36 mark of the first half.
A layup by B.J. Miller gave Troy the lead for the first time with 7:09 left in the opening frame. It would be a lead that would prove to hold up for the rest of the game as Troy never trailed or were tied after that.
The clutch shots from Hollimon were complemented by a dominant game from Jordon Varnado. With Little Rock’s starting center Lis Shoshi out, Varnado made his living on the baseline all game long.
The sophomore ended with 25 points on 8-17 shooting from the field and 9-12 shooting from the free throw line. He earned the eighth double-double of his career by pulling down 13 rebounds.
“You have to give our guys credit for hanging in there in one of the toughest places to play in the league,” head coach Phil Cunningham said. “We toughed one out to stay in the middle of the pack in the Sun Belt standings. We told the guys not to worry about games that are two weeks away or three weeks away. They stayed focused and won us a game that kept us in the middle of the pack.”
Stat of the Game
With Little Rock’s 6-foot-11 center Lis Shoshi on the bench, Phil Cunningham instructed his team to attack down low. They did just that in outscoring Little Rock 32-18 in the paint in the game. Varnado consistently went to the baseline to make his move, which allowed him to frequently get to the free-throw line when he didn’t get to the basket. Alex Hicks also added 14 points on 6-7 shooting.
After narrow losses throughout the season down the stretch, Troy’s win looked perilous as Troy was unable to score in any form from the 8:58 mark in the second half until Jeremy Hollimon hit two free throws with 2:32 to go. Wesley Person’s 3-pointer at said 8:58 mark increased Troy’s lead to 11, but that advantage got as low as just one point with under five minutes to play. Little Rock had a drought of it’s own as the home Trojans were unable to score from the 4:51 mark until just 1:37 remained.
• Jordon Varnado’s 25 points were just two shy of his career-high the forward set earlier this season against Alabama A&M.
• While Varnado fell short of his career-high, Alex Hicks set a new career-high with 14 points. That total eclipsed his previous best of 11 against Cornell on Dec. 22.
• Jeremy Hollimon scored 20 or more points for the fourth time this season. He has now scored in double-digits in 15-straight games.
• Little Rock led for the first 12:02 of the game, but that was the only time Litle Rock would lead. Troy either led or was tied for the final 27:58.
The Trojans will return home this weekend to take on Georgia State in Trojan Arena on Saturday. For more information on Troy men’s basketball, follow the team on social media at @TroyMensHoops or visit TroyTrojans.com.