MARTIN, Tenn. – Redshirt junior guard Matthew Butler supplied a game-high 31 points – including a go-ahead bucket with eight seconds to go in overtime – to help the University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team deliver an 81-77 Ohio Valley Conference victory over Morehead State.
The Skyhawks trailed by 10 points with 8:23 left in regulation before mounting a comeback, as Jacolby Mobley scored the final five points of the second half to even the score at 66-all after 40 minutes. Butler then took over in the extra period, dialing up seven of UT Martin’s 15 points to improve the Skyhawks to 11-6 overall and 1-1 in OVC play.
Butler’s 31 points came on 10-of-19 shooting, including a 5-for-7 effort from three-point range. He also canned six of his eight free throw attempts while logging all 45 minutes. Mobley came away with 23 points while Javier Martinez narrowly missed a double-double with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Morehead State (4-10, 0-1 OVC) placed three players in double-digits scoring, led by Jordan Walker’s 26 points off the bench. Xavier Moon (18) and DeJuan Marrero (13) also contributed to the Eagle attack.
“I’m so proud of these guys – the way they were able to keep fighting,” UT Martin head coach Anthony Stewart said. “We just told them to keep their composure, keep their poise and keep chipping away. There was a bad taste in our mouth after the Jacksonville State game on Thursday and we had to do some soul searching. We corrected some things in a very short turnaround and it showed here tonight.”
An old-fashioned three-point play by Martinez at the 17:28 mark of the first half gave the Skyhawks their first lead of the game. Three-pointers by Butler and Mobley on back-to-back trips down the floor resulted in a 9-6 UT Martin advantage.
Morehead State unreeled a 9-2 run to go ahead by a 13-17 margin before five consecutive points by Mobley tilted the score back in favor of the Skyhawks at 20-19 with 8:20 remaining in the first half.
Five lead changes and two ties followed but UT Martin was able to hold the Eagles without a field goal for the final 6:18 to claim a 30-29 lead at the halftime break.
Mobley and Martinez shared the team lead with nine points in the first half while Walker accumulated nine points for a Morehead State squad that shot 31.3 percent (10-of-32) in the first 20 minutes.
Chandler Rowe scored on a putback to stretch the Skyhawk lead to 32-29 but the Eagles would tally 10 of the next 12 points. UT Martin trimmed its deficit to 47-46 at the 11:22 mark but Morehead State went on a 9-0 run to take a double-digit advantage for the first time in the contest.
The Skyhawks got within a single possession with a little over five minutes left in the second half but the Eagles stretched their lead out to 64-58 at the 3:17 mark. Butler responded with a three-pointer and after two Morehead State free throws, Mobley made a layup and a game-tying trifecta from the right wing with 1:01 remaining to wrap up regulation.
The Eagles scored first in overtime but Butler swished a three-pointer on UT Martin’s next possession to surge the Skyhawks back ahead. The two sides swapped leads on six more times before a Butler jumper with 59 seconds to go resulted in the 12th tie of the contest at 77-77.
Butler then scored on a contested jumper in the paint on an isolation play to make the score 79-77. After Kedar Edwards blocked a potential game-winning three-pointer by Morehead State, Martinez calmly knocked down two free throws with 0.7 seconds left to officially seal the victory.
UT Martin heads back on the road for a pair of in-state OVC showdowns next week. The Skyhawks travel to Belmont on Thursday, Jan. 5 before visiting Tennessee State on Saturday, Jan. 7.