MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team traded blows with in-state rival Lipscomb but fell 95-84 at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center this evening.
Senior Mike Liabo made his first appearance of the season tonight, tying a career-high with 27 points in 22 minutes off the bench. The 6-6 lefty out of Naples, Fla. nailed a career-best seven 3-pointers in 12 attempts while adding three assists for UT Martin (1-7).
Terence Smith piled up 18 points and a game-high seven assists (against zero turnovers) for the Skyhawks while Myles Taylor (15 points) and Marshun Newell (12 points) each cracked double-figures for UT Martin. Dee Oldham nearly recorded his first career double-double with eight points and a career-high 10 rebounds for the Skyhawks, who hit 11 three-pointers tonight.
Lipscomb (3-3) was led by Martin Smith’s 27 points while Malcolm Smith chipped in 23 points. JC Hampton and Josh Williams added 12 and 10 points, respectively, for the Bisons.
“There’s a process to winning and there are definitely some things we have to clean up but I do think we are on the right track,” UT Martin head coach Jason James said. “We’re not a bad basketball team – we have talented pieces but we’re still learning each other. We have some guys who have different roles than they have in the past and we have guys who are not only learning their role but how to dominate their role.”
UT Martin raced out to an 8-4 advantage through the game’s 2:31 but Lipscomb would take its first lead of the contest at 10-8 with 15:57 remaining in the first half.
Four different Skyhawks accounted for field goals during a 9-0 run that expanded the UT Martin advantage out to 17-10 with just under 13 minutes left before the halftime break. However, Lipscomb answered with a 14-2 run to go on top by a 24-19 margin.
Liabo sank a pair of three-pointers in a span of 1:06 but The Bisons went ahead by nine points (34-25) at the 5:51 mark. The Skyhawks responded with a 13-5 run to close out the half, capped off by a wide-open Liabo trifecta in the left corner to make the halftime score 39-38 in Lipscomb’s favor.
Martin Smith had a game-high 15 points for Lipscomb in the first half, while Liabo’s 12 points off four treys paced the Skyhawks. Both teams had the hot hand from outside, as they each drained seven 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes of play.
A layup by Justin Childs kept the margin at one point (41-40) for UT Martin but Lipscomb would soon take a 55-45 advantage courtesy of a 10-3 run. The Skyhawks whittled their deficit back down to two when DeMarc Richardson knocked down a pair of free throws to cap off an 8-0 run.
The Bisons led 63-56 with 10:36 remaining but Liabo caught fire once again, accounting for six straight points to get the Skyhawks within a single possession at 65-62. Lipscomb came right back with a 7-0 run to go on top 72-62 with eight minutes to go.
An old-fashioned three-point play by Newell at the 5:46 mark sliced UT Martin’s deficit to 76-73. A layup by Oldham got the Skyhawks within one point (79-78) with four minutes to go but Lipscomb would end the game on a 14-4 run over the final 2:49.
UT Martin wraps up its four-game homestand on Wednesday, Nov. 27 when it plays host to in-state NAIA rival Bethel at 7 p.m.