MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team chalked up its first Ohio Valley Conference win of the year courtesy of a season-best offensive output in a 100-81 triumph over Tennessee State in the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.
The Skyhawks (6-14, 1-4 OVC) hit triple-digits on the scoreboard for the first time since exactly three years ago to the date at Tennessee Tech. UT Martin also shot a season-best 60.9 percent from the floor (39-for-64) – including an 11-for-23 effort from beyond the three-point arc – and never trailed in the contest.
For the second time this season, UT Martin placed six players in double-figures in the scoring column. Myles Taylor scored 25 points on an efficient 10-for-12 shooting performance in 24 minutes of play. Terence Smith tallied 20 points, a team-high seven rebounds and six assists while Dee Oldham tied a career-high with 15 points for the second straight game and also tied a career-best with four steals.
Marshun Newell generated a double-double (11 points, 10 assists) for the second straight game while Mike Liabo (13 points) and Justin Childs (10 points on 4-for-4 shooting) also reached double-figures for the Skyhawks, who handed out a season-high 25 assists against only eight turnovers.
OVC leading scorer Patrick Miller had a game-high 29 points for Tennessee State (2-17, 1-4 OVC) while Jay Harris contributed 15 points. MJ Rhett and Kennedy Eubanks also scored 11 points apiece for the Tigers, who were limited to just 11.8 percent shooting from three-point range (2-for-17).
“It all came together tonight,” UT Martin head coach Jason James said. “Right from the opening tip until the final buzzer, we were engaged and ready to go. We came out with great energy and executed well from start to finish. We needed a win – we had worked hard enough for it but winning had eluded us. It was fun to watch us execute on a high level.”
The Skyhawks began the game on a blazing streak, scoring the first nine points on their way to a 16-1 lead at the 15:49 mark. UT Martin pushed its lead out to 18 points thanks to back-to-back layups by Liabo and Newell, giving the Skyhawks 11 makes in their first 12 shots of the game.
After the Tigers went on a 10-0 run, the Skyhawks quickly extended the margin back out to 15 points when Tobias Dowdell converted a jumper from just outside the paint with 7:21 left in the first half.
Oldham sank a three-pointer off a fast break to make the score 42-25 at the 4:45 mark before UT Martin settled for a 48-37 halftime lead. Oldham had all of his 15 points in the first 20 minutes, while Miller’s 10 points led Tennessee State.
The Tigers would get within seven points twice in the first 3:18 of the second half but UT Martin responded with a 9-2 run, capped off with back-to-back three-pointers by Smith.
UT Martin would later unreel a 7-0 run to give the Skyhawks a 68-49 advantage with 10:35 left to play. A layup by DeMarc Richardson a little under a minute later provided UT Martin with its biggest lead of the night at 72-51.
Tennessee State would get back within 14 points with five minutes remaining but that was as close as the Tigers would get the rest of the way. A trey by Taylor at the 3:16 mark pushed UT Martin’s advantage back out to 21 points while a driving layup by Newell with 25 seconds remaining clinched the 100-point mark and wrapped up the season’s best offensive effort.
The Skyhawks head back on the road this Saturday, Jan. 18 when they take on Morehead State out of the OVC East division. Tipoff for that game is scheduled for 1 p.m. CST.