November 27, 2013

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MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team set season-highs in scoring and field goal percentage on its way to a 95-82 triumph over in-state NAIA rival Bethel at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center tonight.

The Skyhawks (2-7) sank 57.7 percent of their shot attempts (30-for-52) this evening to shake off a slow start and hold a lead for the final 30:48 of the contest. UT Martin saw five players crack double-figures in scoring, led by Myles Taylor notching his 12th career double-double with season-highs of 26 points and 11 rebounds. The junior out of Little Rock, Ark. went 8-for-13 from the floor and knocked down 10 of his 13 attempts from the charity stripe.

Marshun Newell compiled 16 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals for UT Martin, while Terence Smith added 14 points and five rebounds. Justin Childs was responsible for a season-best 14 points and three steals off the bench while Mike Liabo pitched in with 13 points and a game-high five assists for the Skyhawks, who forced Bethel into 22 turnovers.

For Bethel (7-2), Gary Pollard compiled 21 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals. Marcus Bowins recorded a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) while Walt Andrews and Mark Vaughn scored 14 and 11 points, respectively.

“I thought we relaxed a lot in both halves but Bethel is a good team and they made a lot of shots, especially in the second half,” Skyhawk head coach Jason James said. “I thought we executed pretty well on the offensive end – most of the time we either scored or got to the free throw line.”

Bethel scored the game’s first six points on its way to an early 12-4 advantage but the Skyhawks used a 10-2 run to tie the score at 14-all at the 11:39 mark of the first half. Less than a minute later, Liabo canned a trey to give UT Martin a 17-16 advantage and ignite a 9-0 Skyhawk run.

The Wildcats got within two points (27-25) with 4:49 left to play before the halftime break UT Martin used a 12-4 run – capped off with another Liabo three-pointer – to build a double-digit lead with under two minutes to play in the first half.

UT Martin withstood a 7-1 Bethel run to close out the first half, taking a 40-36 lead into the locker room. Taylor’s 10 points led the Skyhawks while Bowins accounted for 11 points to pace Bethel in the first 20 minutes.

Newell got the Skyhawks going early in the second half, scoring five points and adding an assist during a 9-0 run to begin the half. Bethel would close in within six points on three different occasions until UT Martin reeled off seven unanswered points in a span of 49 seconds, as an old-fashioned three-point play by Childs resulted in the biggest lead of the night for the Skyhawks (70-55 with 8:56 remaining).

The closest Bethel would get the rest of the way was seven points, as Taylor would tally six straight points for UT Martin to push its lead back out to double-digits with less than five minutes to play. The Skyhawks closed out the victory by making 14 of their 17 free throw from that point until the end of the contest.

UT Martin closes out the month of November with its longest road trip of the season, traveling to Las Vegas, Nev. to take on the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels on Saturday, Nov. 30. Tip-off from the Thomas and Mack Center is scheduled for 6 p.m. CST.