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MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team will go for a sweep of its season-long four-game homestand when it hosts in-state Ohio Valley Conference rival Belmont at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center. Tipoff on Saturday, Dec. 30 is scheduled for 6 p.m., following the Skyhawk women’s game as part of a conference doubleheader.
This matchup pits two of the winningest programs not only in the OVC but in the state of Tennessee in recent years. Of the 12 Division-I programs located in the Volunteer State, only the Skyhawks and Bruins have won at least 20 games in each of the past three seasons.
The Elam Center has become one of the most intimidating home court advantages in the OVC, as UT Martin is 39-8 at home since the start of the 2014-15 season (including a stout 21-4 mark against league competition).
In their conference opener on Thursday, the Skyhawks (6-8, 1-0 OVC) outlasted Tennessee State by a 63-60 margin. UT Martin was led by the junior duo of Jailen Gill (career-highs of 19 points and 10 rebounds) and Darius Thompson (12 points, career-highs of five assists, four steals and three blocks). Gill knocked down all eight of his field goal attempts, becoming the first Skyhawk since Olajide Hay (8-for-8 against Tennessee Tech on March 3, 2009) to sink that many shots without a miss.
UT Martin enters the contest as victors in five of its last six games and a big reason why has been its accuracy from the charity stripe. The Skyhawks lead the OVC and rank just outside the top-25 in the nation in free throw percentage (.765).
Belmont (9-5, 1-0 OVC) was the only road team to claim a win during Thursday’s OVC Opening Night, securing a 94-72 win at Southeast Missouri. Amanze Egekeze (perfect 7-of-7 shooting) and Nick Hopkins (seven 3-pointers off the bench) each had 21 points to lead the Bruins, who lead the conference and rank eighth nationally in three-point field goals made (11.6 per game). Drew Windler leads the OVC in rebounding and boasts nine double-doubles this year (third-most in the NCAA).
Fans can watch the game live, free of charge, on the OVC Digital Network. That link - in addition to radio and live stats links - is available at the top of the webpage.