MARTIN, Tenn. – Matthew Butler poured in 30 of his career-high 35 points in the first half to help the University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team break the game open in a 108-64 triumph over Boyce College at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.
Butler became the first Skyhawk to score at least 35 points since Benzor Simmons accomplished the feat at Evansville on Dec. 19, 2009. The junior guard out of Memphis, Tenn. went 13-for-19 from the floor, including seven 3-pointers in 10 attempts. He knocked down both of his free throw attempts while also tying a career-high with seven rebounds in 32 minutes of play.
All 11 Skyhawks who saw playing time scored today as UT Martin (8-2) won its 11th consecutive home game. Malik Pugh accumulated career-highs of 19 points and 10 assists for his first career double-double while Kedar Edwards racked up 17 points, five rebounds, five assists and six steals. Mike Fofana (career-high 11 points and eight rebounds) and Malik London (career-best nine rebounds and four blocked shots) also chipped in for a Skyhawk offensive attack that connected on 59.5 percent (44-of-74) of their field goal attempts.
“It was good to get some of our younger guys and our bench some Division-I minutes and experience,” said Skyhawk head coach Anthony Stewart, who became the first head coach in school history to win eight of his first 10 career games. “Matthew was huge tonight. He can do it all – he has played at a high level and to have that experience and to have a guy who can provide that leadership for us is big.”
Boyce College (3-6), a National Christian College Athletic Association school located in Louisville, Ky., was led by Trey Stewart’s 19 points. Adam Rabke (14 points) and Bryce Wells (10 points) also recorded double-digits in the scoring column for a Bulldog squad that sank 12 three-pointers but committed 22 turnovers.
UT Martin never trailed in the contest but the first five minutes of the contest were tight. Butler poured in five points to help the Skyhawks take a 6-0 lead but Boyce College got within a bucket at 10-8 at the 15:14 mark.
Butler and Pugh then helped UT Martin go on a 24-2 run, as the backcourt duo joined forces to score 20 points during the Skyhawk spurt. A layup by Kahari Beaufort with a little over seven minutes to play in the first half provided UT Martin with a 43-14 edge.
The Bulldogs bounced back to score 12 of the next 14 points but Edwards helped the Skyhawks go on a 21-1 run over the final 4:36 of the opening half. The senior out of Brooklyn, NY tossed in eight points during the run to help UT Martin claim a 66-27 halftime advantage.
Butler was 6-of-7 from three-point land in the first half, as his 30-point outburst eclipsed his previous career-high of 25 points set at Ole Miss in the 2016-17 season opener. Edwards and Pugh each added 13 points apiece for UT Martin while Stewart (11 points) paced Boyce College.
Fofana scored on back-to-back trips down the floor to pad the Skyhawk lead to 41 points (78-37) with 14:19 left to play. Butler, Jalen Jackson and Edwards each splashed three-pointers in the span of 80 seconds before London scored UT Martin’s next four points.
Nick Detlev scored six of nine Skyhawk points during one stretch before a fast break layup by Dante Bailey provided UT Martin its biggest lead of the game at 106-60 with 1:10 to go.
The Skyhawks will take this week off to focus on final examinations before resuming their nonconference slate at Illinois State on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m.