STARKVILLE, Miss. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team hung tough with Southeastern Conference opponent Mississippi State through the first half tonight but an extended second half run by the Bulldogs resulted in a 92-61 Skyhawk loss at Humphrey Coliseum.
The game featured 12 lead changes and four tie scores in the first half alone as a late Mississippi State run resulted in a 39-33 Skyhawk deficit at the break. The Bulldogs (9-1) then outscored UT Martin by a 53-28 margin in the final 20 minutes, at one point outscoring the Skyhawks 27-2 over a seven-minute span.
“We came out a little flat in the second half and they built up a lead on us,” UT Martin head coach Anthony Stewart said. “Mississippi State is a huge, strong team and they do a good job of defending and rebounding. They had 22 offensive rebounds and you’re not going to beat too many teams allowing that.”
Matthew Butler poured in a game-high 22 points while also leading the Skyhawks (3-8) with five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Delfincko Bogan also pitched in 10 points, five rebounds and three assists for UT Martin.
Mississippi State was led by the duo of Aric Holman (21 points, 12 rebounds) and Quinndary Weatherspoon (21 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, four steals). Nick Weatherspoon added 11 points as the Bulldogs shot 67.7 percent (21-of-31) over the final 20 minutes.
Butler swished a three-pointer off a curl screen on UT Martin’s first shot attempt of the contest, giving the Skyhawks their first lead at 3-2. Moments later, Bogan stepped in to a three-pointer to make the score 6-4 in favor of UT Martin.
The Bulldogs took a three-point lead at the first media timeout but another Bogan trifecta and a 12-foot jumper by Dominique Williams provided the Skyhawks with a 13-11 advantage. Jailen Gill tossed in four straight points in under a minute while Darius Thompson sank a three-pointer from the right wing to keep UT Martin on top 11 minutes into the contest.
Mississippi State used a 7-0 run over a stretch of 85 seconds to claim a 27-22 lead at the 6:42 mark. Butler quickly answered with back-to-back three-pointers to tilt the score back in UT Martin’s favor with five minutes to play in the first half.
Another 7-0 Bulldog run took place as Mississippi State used its late momentum to take a 39-33 halftime lead.
Butler’s nine points led eight Skyhawks who scored in the first half. Holman accounted for 12 points to pace the Bulldogs in the opening half.
Mississippi State began the second half on a 9-1 run, taking a 48-34 lead in the process. Butler was responsible for UT Martin’s first field goal after the halftime break at the 16:44 mark but the Bulldogs came right back with 10 unanswered points to make the score 58-36.
The Skyhawks continued to battle, unreeling an 8-0 run to slice their deficit to 58-44 after a Williams leaner in the paint. Butler buried a three-pointer in transition to close UT Martin’s gap to 13 points (63-50) with 10:40 remaining.
However, Mississippi State tallied the next 18 points of the game and the Skyhawks would not get any closer than 29 points the rest of the way.
UT Martin now returns home for a four-game homestand, starting with a Wednesday, Dec. 20 matchup against Blue Mountain College. Tipoff from the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.