LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team placed a trio of players in double-figures in the scoring column this afternoon but couldn’t hold off UNLV, as the Skyhawks fell 85-55 at the Thomas and Mack Center.
Myles Taylor’s 13 points led UT Martin (2-8) today while Terence Smith and Justin Childs added 12 and 11 points, respectively. Mike Liabo (seven points, team-high four assists) and Javier Martinez (six points, career-best eight rebounds) also had notable performances this afternoon.
UNLV (3-3) was led by Bryce Dejean-Jones’ 16 points while Roscoe Smith added a double-double of 13 points and 19 rebounds. Khem Birch (13 points), Kevin Olekaibe (11) and Jelan Kendrick (11) also cracked double-figures for the Runnin’ Rebels.
“I thought we got into a little bit of a rhythm on the offensive end in the first half,” UT Martin head coach Jason James said. “When you come into a game in this type of environment, you have to make shots and we did that early but as the first half went on, we wore down. We were in the game for about 18 minutes – the last two minutes of the first half got away from us. UNLV started playing well and we were playing from behind.”
The Skyhawks played the Runnin’ Rebels even through the first eight minutes, as a pair of early Martinez layups evened the score at 9-all. Three more ties would follow until a Marshun Newell steal and layup gave UT Martin its first lead of the game (17-15) at the 12:27 mark.
Childs and Smith added buckets on the Skyhawks’ next two trips down the floor to push UT Martin’s lead out to 21-17 with 10:44 remaining in the first half.
UNLV then scored six unanswered to reclaim the lead until a pull-up jumper by Liabo made the score 23-23 at the 7:52 mark. The Runnin’ Rebels would follow with a 14-2 run over a stretch of 5:13 before a Childs backdoor layup at the 1:09 mark ended the drought for UT Martin, who trailed 39-27 at the halftime break.
The Skyhawks displayed balanced scoring in the first half, as six players scored between four and six points. Taylor’s six points led UT Martin while Olekaibe tallied eight points to lead UNLV.
UNLV began the second half on a 15-2 run before Childs canned a long three-pointer at the 15:29 mark. Another Childs basket sliced the Skyhawk deficit to 54-34 and Childs kept the margin at 20 points with a steal and fast break dunk at the 10:17 mark.
The Runnin’ Rebels used an 11-2 run in the waning stages of the second half to extend their lead.
UT Martin returns to action on Wednesday, Dec. 4 when it travels to Samford for a 7 p.m. matchup.
Photo courtesy of David Barrington