December 8, 2016

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MARTIN, Tenn. - Fresh off its best start in three decades, the University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team heads to Illinois State for a nonconference showdown on Saturday, Dec. 10 at Redbird Arena. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.

The Skyhawks are 8-2 for the first time in their Division-I era (since 1992) and are off to their best start since 1986-87. UT Martin has flourished under first-year head coach Anthony Stewart, who is the only coach in program history to win eight of his first 10 career games.

UT Martin enters the game ranking seventh nationally in assists (182) while also boasting the highest-scoring offense in the Ohio Valley Conference (82.8 points per outing). The Skyhawks’ 23 road wins since the start of the 2014-15 season are the second-most in Division-I basketball, trailing only Monmouth (25).

The Skyhawks are coming off their 11th consecutive home victory, a 108-64 win over Boyce College. In that game, Matthew Butler tossed in 30 of his career-best 35 points in the first half while Malik Pugh (career-highs of 19 points and 10 assists) accumulated a double-double for UT Martin, who connected on 59.5 percent of its field goal attempts.

Illinois State (4-3) is coming off a tough 70-68 setback at Tulsa on Wednesday. Paris Lee accounted for a game-high 18 points to lead four double-digit scorers for the Redbirds, who opened up a 14-point advantage in the second half before the Golden Hurricane converted a layup with 11 seconds remaining for the go-ahead bucket.

This game marks the second OVC opponent for Illinois State this year, as the Redbirds fell by a slim 73-70 margin at Murray State in the season opener. MiKyle McIntosh (18 points) and Deontae Hawkins (14 points, game-high 15 rebounds) paced Illinois State, who fell on a three-pointer with two seconds left.

Fans can watch the game live on ESPN3 at the link above.  An audio feed of the game can be found locally on Star 95.1 FM or online at the link found at the top of the webpage. Live stats for the contest can also be viewed by accessing the link above.