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MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team will look to continue its recent home success against Murray State when it plays host to the Ohio Valley Conference-rival Racers for an “Orange Out” at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center. Tipoff is set for Saturday, Feb. 3 at approximately 6 p.m. (following the Skyhawk women’s game).
Despite the fact that Murray State leads the all-time series by a 49-7 margin, the head-to-head records are split at 3-all since the beginning of the 2015-16 season. That includes two consecutive Skyhawk victories over the Racers in the Elam Center, as well as UT Martin’s 73-67 triumph in last year’s Ohio Valley Conference Tournament semifinals.
Skyhawk redshirt senior guard Matthew Butler is averaging 16.5 points per outing in four career games against Murray State. That includes a team-high 20 points earlier this season in the Skyhawks’ 82-68 setback in Murray on Jan. 6.
UT Martin’s defensive intensity has been elevated over its last three games, as the Skyhawks (8-16, 3-8 OVC) have held their opponents to a paltry 33.9 percent shooting effort (including 22.6 percent from three-point range) in that span. As a direct result, UT Martin now ranks second in the OVC with a .407 defensive field goal percentage in league play - just .001 percentage points behind Tennessee State.
The Racers (17-5, 9-2 OVC) enter the Elam Center on a four-game winning streak, including a come-from-behind 87-75 win at Southeast Missouri on Thursday. In that game, Jonathan Stark posted 29 points while Ja Morant (23 points, game-high nine rebounds) and Terrell Miller (15 points) helped Murray State overcome a 13-point deficit midway through the first half.
Tabbed as the OVC Preseason Player of the Year, Stark tosses in a league-high 24.6 points in conference play. The Racers lead the league in scoring offense (81.5 points per game), scoring margin (+14.1), field goal percentage (.495), three-point field goal percentage (.393) and rebounding margin (+6.9).
A live video stream of the game can be viewed free of charge on the OVC Digital Network. That link, in addition to links for Mix 101.3 FM/WUTM 90.3 FM radio calls and live stats - can be found at the top of the webpage.