MARTIN, Tenn. – Sophomore Myles Taylor notched his seventh career double-double but The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team dropped a 64-54 decision to Jacksonville State at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center this afternoon.
Taylor led the Skyhawks with 22 points – his ninth career game of 20 or more points – and tied a career-best with a game-high 12 rebounds. The Little Rock, Ark. native also set a new career-high with four steals in 36 minutes today.
Junior guard Justin Childs added a dozen points today for UT Martin (3-11, 0-2 Ohio Valley Conference). The Skyhawks played Jacksonville State even for the first half (22-22) before the Gamecocks outscored UT Martin by a 42-32 margin in the last 20 minutes.
Jacksonville State (10-3, 2-0 OVC) was led by Tarvin Gaines’ 23 points, while Darion Rackley (13 points), Ronnie Boggs (10) and Brian Williams (10) also reached double-figures.
“We weren’t ready to play from the beginning,” UT Martin head coach Jason James said. “We started executing and played a little better (as the game went on). I thought we were pretty good defensively the first half of the game but we dug ourselves a hole in the second half and couldn’t come back from it.”
The Gamecocks began the game on a 9-2 run before UT Martin closed the gap to 9-6 at the 12:23 mark of the first half. After Jacksonville State extended its lead to 14-6, the Skyhawks answered back with seven unanswered points over the next 1:12 – capped off with five straight points by Childs.
Four straight points by Jeremy Washington tied the game at 17-17 with 6:04 remaining in the first half, while a pair of Childs free throws less than a minute later gave UT Martin its first lead of the night at 19-17.
An emphatic fast break dunk by Taylor at the 1:51 mark put the Skyhawks ahead 21-20. Taylor would later add a free throw before Jacksonville State scored the final two points of the first half to result in a 22-22 tie at the break.
Childs’ nine points led all scorers at the half, while Rackley tallied seven points to lead the Gamecocks. The score wasn’t the only thing that was even in the first 20 minutes – as both squads shot 38.9 percent on 7-for-18 shooting in the first half.
Jacksonville State struck for the first two points of the second half, but its lead was erased when Taylor put in an old-fashioned three-point play with 19:26 left to play.
The Gamecocks then scored eight unanswered to go on top 32-25 with just under 16 minutes remaining. Eight seconds later, a three-point play by BJ McLaughlin got the Skyhawks back within four at 32-28. Jacksonville State then pieced together another 8-0 run to go on top 40-28 with 13:34 remaining.
A three-pointer by Mike Liabo sliced UT Martin’s deficit to single-digits (47-38) with 10:29 to go. Baskets by Terence Smith on back-to-back possessions made the score 50-44 three minutes later, but Jacksonville State soon pushed its lead back out to 10 with 4:37 left to play until another three-point play by Taylor ignited another UT Martin spurt.
After a defensive stand by the Skyhawks, Washington converted a tough tip-in at the 3:41 mark – getting UT Martin within five at 55-50. That was ultimately as close as the Skyhawks would get, as Jacksonville State went 4-for-4 from the charity stripe to close out the game after another Taylor three-point play with 1:30 remaining closed UT Martin’s deficit to six.
The Skyhawks continue their three-game homestand this Thursday, Jan. 3, when they take on defending OVC champion Murray State. Tip-off from the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.