MEN'S HOOPS CLAWS ITS WAY TO 65-63 VICTORY OVER KENNESAW STATE
December 1, 2012
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MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team overcame a 10-point second half deficit this evening to post a thrilling 65-63 win over Kennesaw State at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.
The Skyhawks (3-5) trailed by 10 with eight minutes left and nine with five minutes to go in the game tonight before ending the contest on a 15-4 run. The comeback was completed when a Justin Childs layup off a set play coming out of a timeout broke a 63-63 tie with two seconds remaining.
Myles Taylor led UT Martin with 20 points (8-for-12 shooting) and nine rebounds tonight, while Mike Liabo cracked double-digits scoring with 14 points off the bench. Justin Childs added 12 points and Khristian Taylor handed out a career-high 10 assists (against only three turnovers) in 28 minutes off the bench.
For Kennesaw State, Markeith Cummings scored 19 points, while Aaron Anderson compiled 15 points and 10 rebounds. Delbert Love’s 12 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals also led the Owls, who were limited to 37.7 percent shooting (23-for-61) for the contest.
While the usual characters provided the Skyhawks with the majority of their offense this evening, UT Martin head coach Jason James was impressed with the play of Khristian Taylor and Pierre Mopo, who entered the game averaging just 15.8 minutes per game combined.
“If we were going to give out a gameball for tonight, it would have went to Pierre Mopo,” James said. “We needed bigtime stops on Cummings late and Mopo was physical with him and was able to make his shots tough. He played a really big role late in the game. The last couple days, Khristian has been really good in practice creating offense, not only for himself but for everybody else and we saw that tonight. I thought he was really, really good at making plays down the stretch.”
Kennesaw State jumped out to an early 8-0 lead before Bobby Jones heated up for UT Martin. The junior guard poured in eight of his nine points in a stretch of 3:03 to help the Skyhawks get back in the game.
After four ties through the first 11 minutes, UT Martin took its first lead of the game at the 8:30 mark with a pair of Liabo free throws. The lead then switched hands five times in the final six minutes of the half before Childs accounted for five straight points to close out the half strong for the Skyhawks, who held a 33-29 halftime lead.
Childs’ 10 points led all scorers at the break, while Jones and Myles Taylor chipped in eight and seven points, respectively, in the first half.
The Owls crept within one point with 17:35 left to go in the game before a quick 5-0 run – capped off by a Khristian Taylor layup – gave UT Martin its biggest lead of the game (40-34) at the 15:48 mark.
However, Kennesaw State then used a 9-1 run to reclaim the lead with 13 minutes to play. A Liabo layup at the 11:40 mark evened the score at 47-all but the Owls then went on a 10-0 run over the next 3:25.
A pair of Cummings free throws with 5:34 left to play gave Kennesaw State a 59-50 lead, but Liabo sank a pair of three-pointers in a span of 2:21 to help the Skyhawks gain ground on the Owls. An old-fashioned three-point play by Myles Taylor tied the score (61-61) with 1:14 to play, but Cummings answered with a layup with 55 seconds left to tilt the score back in Kennesaw State’s favor.
On UT Martin’s next possession, Myles Taylor swished a runner in the lane for the 13th tie of the game. The Skyhawks then forced a turnover with six seconds left to play and used a timeout to set up the final play. Khristian Taylor received the inbounds pass and dribbled three-quarters length of the court to hit a streaking Childs, who converted a contested reverse layup with two seconds left. UT Martin’s defense then wrapped up the victory by not allowing Kennesaw State a chance to get off another shot.
The Skyhawks now will hit the road for three straight games, starting with a Wednesday, Dec. 5 matchup at Central Arkansas. Tip-off from Conway is scheduled for 7 p.m.