Tigers' Smith, Franklin excel

towson men 82, hampton 73

November 23, 2008|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Special to The Baltimore Sun

Two years ago, forward Jarrel Smith was a highly touted freshman at Colorado State. A year ago, guard Troy Franklin was earning All-Metro honors at Mount Carmel High.

Last night, the two took the court together for just the third time as members of Towson University's basketball team and quickly showed the announced crowd of 2,034 just what all the buzz is about.

Smith posted career highs of 24 points and nine rebounds, and Franklin added 18 points, including a pair of critical three-pointers that helped the host Tigers regain the lead down the stretch in an 82-73 win over Hampton.

The two are part of a Towson rotation that features eight underclassmen in the top nine.

"That's really the excitement for a coach - the excitement of putting this whole group together," Towson coach Pat Kennedy said. "It took us four patient years to get to this point. We have a long way to go ... but we have, in our own mind, turned the corner."

Towson (2-1) will get further help tomorrow when top rebounder Junior Hairston returns from a three-game suspension for violating team rules. Tommy Breaux, a 6-foot-8 defensive standout, also is set to rejoin the team after the end of football season.

Facing a Hampton team coming off of a win over George Mason, however, the Tigers needed little help inside, out-rebounding the Pirates 42-31.

Towson took control at the outset, building a 19-5 lead after the first 5:24 after a pair of three-pointers by Smith and one each by Brian Morris and Franklin. Morris finished with nine points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

The Tigers then built their lead to as much as 15 before Hampton (1-2) used an 8-0 run to close the gap near the end of the half.

The Pirates continued to cut into the lead after halftime and pulled even for the first time when Morris' three-point attempt hit the front of the rim and Hampton's Jordan Brooks grabbed the long rebound and found Freeman for the alley-oop at the other end with 8:22 left.

After blowing an early 15-point lead, however, Towson pulled even on a three-pointer by Franklin with 5:41 left, then took the lead for good on his third three of the game just moments later. The shots were part of a 13-2 run that helped the Tigers close out their fifth straight home win dating to last season.

"I think we have a lot of potential to do something in the future, and also right now," Franklin said. "All we're doing is getting better every day."

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