UTM MEN'S BASKETBALL LEAVES IT ALL ON THE FLOOR IN 66-53 SETBACK TO MURRAY STATE
February 3, 2018
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MARTIN, Tenn. – In a game that featured 18 lead changes and eight tie scores, the University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team traded blows with Murray State before a late scoring drought resulted in a 66-53 Skyhawk loss.
The Skyhawks led for almost 17 minutes tonight, including a two-point advantage with 9:41 left to play. However, UT Martin (8-17, 3-9 Ohio Valley Conference) would not convert another field goal for the duration of the contest – going 0-for-13 from the floor with three turnovers over that stretch.
Matthew Butler drained five 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 19 points for the Skyhawks, who shot 52.2 percent (12-of-23) in the first half and 26.7 percent (8-for-30) over the final 20 minutes. Fatodd Lewis added 12 points while Dominique Williams hauled in a team-best seven rebounds in 15 minutes.
Murray State (18-5, 10-2 OVC) was guided by freshman Ja Morant’s 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists. Jonathan Stark scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half while Terrell Miller and Shaq Buchanan each provided 10 points for the Racers, who shot 38.2 percent (21-of-55) from the floor.
“We just hit a patch there in the second half where we couldn’t put the ball in the hole,” UT Martin head coach Anthony Stewart said. “We were scrapping in there with some offensive rebounds and some extra tries but we just unfortunately couldn’t get one to go down. We had open looks – if we hit a couple of those, it’s a different ballgame.”
A Butler three-pointer and a Delfincko Bogan free throw gave the Skyhawks their first lead of the night with 18:34 left in the first half. Butler canned a pair of trifectas in a 36-second span to extend UT Martin’s advantage out to 16-12 at the 11:20 mark.
Another Butler trey – his fourth of the game – kept the Skyhawks on top by a 26-22 margin with 7:23 to go before the halftime break. Murray State briefly took a one-point advantage but that lead lasted only 14 seconds before an old-fashioned three-point play by Lewis pushed UT Martin back on top.
Terrence Parker sank two free throws with 1:10 to go to extend the Skyhawk lead out to 33-29 but Stark managed a pair of three-pointers in the final 47 seconds of the first half, resulting in a 35-33 Racer lead at the break.
UT Martin was paced by Butler (12 points) and Lewis (10) in the opening 20 minutes. Stark’s game-high 15 points and Morant’s 10 points led Murray State.
The Racers accounted for five of the first seven points in the second stanza, claiming a 40-35 lead at the 18:05 mark. Bogan then notched four straight points as UT Martin used a 6-0 run to go back on top by a 41-40 margin with a little under 15 minutes remaining.
Butler then piled up five consecutive points for the Skyhawks, as his fast break three-pointer at the 11:41 mark made the score 46-42 in UT Martin’s favor.
Two more ties and four lead changes occurred in a 46-second span, capped off by a Darius Thompson straightaway three-pointer that gave the Skyhawks a 51-49 edge with 9:41 to play.
However, UT Martin was unable to convert another bucket the rest of the way. Thompson knocked down a pair of free throw attempts with 7:20 to go to trim the Skyhawk deficit to 54-53 but the Racers were responsible for the last 12 points of the game from that point forward.
UT Martin’s next game is slated for Thursday, Feb. 8, as it travels to Eastern Kentucky for a 7 p.m. CST tipoff.