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Opening Night Rewind: No Clouds Over the Sun Belt

A strong opening night performance saw the Sun Belt fall just shy of 5-0, with only Creighton standing in North Texas' way.

Eric Francis

We all know by now about Tony Mitchell's strong performance in a road loss against Creighton, as well as South Alabama's shocker of a win on Florida State's home court. But what else went down on opening night in the Sun Belt Conference?

It started off great for Troy, as they bombed threes (7-for-17 in the first half) en route to an early 30-14 lead. Then the shooting went cold, and three players all just barely reached double-digits in scoring. The Trojans didn't shoot particularly well overall, and barely got to the charity stripe (4-for-7), but they played just well enough to stave off Mississippi State's rally and open the season with a win.

Will Neighbour opened the season with a strong performance, posting 13 points to go with 13 rebounds, but he was only the Trojans' third leading scorer - he was outshined by two very impressive freshmen.

Guard John Gillon finished the night with 22 points thanks to a 10-for-11 night from the free-throw line (including seven in the last five minutes whole UALR salted the game away).

He was, however, overshadowed by fellow freshman forward James White. White played only 18 minutes - largely because Michael Javes couldn't stay out of foul trouble - and wound up pacing the team with 18 points and six rebounds. Something to watch for going forward.

Last but most certainly not least was MTSU, who also got contributions from rather unlikely places. In the preseason HOOPWAR told us that JT Sulton and Marcos Knight were the players to watch for the Blue Raiders, and the numbers may have had a hiccup.

Knight missed every shot he took, but fellow seniors Jason Jones and James Gallman went 14-for-16 from the field and 5-of-7 from three point range to tally up 34 points in an easy win.