MARTIN, Tenn. – Five teams who won at least 25 games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament a year ago highlight The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball schedule in 2012-13, Skyhawk head coach Jason James announced today.
“We look forward to a very challenging schedule,” said James, who enters his fourth year at the helm of the Skyhawk men’s basketball program. “With each contest, we will find out something different about our basketball team. We will find out very quickly where we are and what needs to be done to achieve all our goals.”
The Skyhawks open their season with a Nov. 2 home exhibition against Division-III Illinois College, the alma mater of UT Martin assistant coach Dylan Dudley. The game will be played at 11 a.m. as part of the fifth-annual “Character Counts” game, where thousands of local elementary, middle and high school students will get the chance to attend.
A pair of road tests then follow, as the Skyhawks officially open the season at Arkansas-Little Rock (Nov. 9) and Cincinnati (Nov. 11). Arkansas-Little Rock is coming off a Sun Belt Conference West division championship, while Cincinnati posted 26 wins and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last year.
Three straight home games then follow, as UT Martin will play host to Fontbonne, Arkansas State and Lyon College in a span of six days. It will be the first time that the Skyhawks play Fontbonne, a Division-III school out of St. Louis, Mo. Meanwhile, it will be the eighth straight year that UT Martin plays Arkansas State. The Skyhawks hold a 13-6 all-time advantage against Lyon but have not played the Scots since the 1998-99 season.
Road contests against Bradley (Nov. 24) and Memphis (Nov. 29) close out the month of November. The Bradley game is a return game from the 2011 ESPN BracketBusters matchup, while the matchup at Memphis – coming off 26 wins and an NCAA Tournament appearance – will be the third time in the last six years the Skyhawks have taken on the Tigers.
UT Martin kicks off December with a home game against Kennesaw State, a team it defeated on the road last season in a 76-75 double-overtime thriller. A trio of road games then ensues, as the Skyhawks will travel to play Central Arkansas for the sixth straight season, Lipscomb for the third straight year and Saint Louis, who won 26 games and played in the NCAA Tournament in 2011-12.
A rematch of one of the wildest games in Elam Center history will take place on Dec. 19, as UT Martin welcomes former Ohio Valley Conference foe Samford. The Skyhawks won their first-ever OVC Tournament game by downing the Bulldogs by a 101-94 margin in triple overtime on March 4, 2008.
OVC play then begins on Dec. 29 at Southeast Missouri before a New Year’s Eve showdown at home against Jacksonville State. Home games against OVC West rivals Murray State (OVC-record 31 wins and NCAA Tournament berth last year) and Austin Peay take place on Jan. 3 and Jan. 5, respectively.
The Skyhawks then face a pair of 20-win teams from last season on the road (Tennessee State and Belmont). This will be the first OVC season for Belmont, who went 27-8 and qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season.
After a home matchup against Morehead State on Jan. 19, UT Martin travels to Eastern Illinois (Jan. 24) and SIU Edwardsville (Jan. 26) before the longest homestand of the season occurs. From Jan. 31 through Feb. 16, the Skyhawks will host Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Illinois, SIU Edwardsville and Southeast Missouri.
UT Martin then heads to Tennessee Tech on Feb. 21 before its home finale two days later in the ESPN BracketBusters series. Away games at Murray State (Feb. 28) and Austin Peay (March 2) close out the regular season before the OVC Tournament takes place at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium on March 6-9.
“Each game will prepare us for the super competitive OVC,” James said. “This year our league from top to bottom will be as good as it has been since I have been in the league. Each night you have to be ready to play at a very high level.”