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MARTIN, Tenn. - After putting together an impressive nonconference resume, the University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team begins Ohio Valley Conference play with a Thursday home tilt against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. Tipoff on Dec. 29 is scheduled for approximately 7:30 p.m., as the game is the backend of a doubleheader with the Skyhawk women’s basketball team.
The Skyhawks (10-5) roll into league competition with the most wins in the OVC, tying a school-record with 10 nonconference victories. UT Martin entered the week ranking third in the nation in rebounding and fifth in assists while also boasting the league’s top scoring offense at 79.8 points per contest under first-year head coach Anthony Stewart.
UT Martin is 9-15 all-time in OVC openers but are 5-4 in such games held at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center. This game marks just the second time in the last seven seasons that the Skyhawks’ first OVC game will be played at home.
Kedar Edwards has paced UT Martin during the first two months of the season, as the senior forward is the only player in the OVC to rank in the league’s top-11 in scoring (15.6 points per game), rebounding (6.7 per game), assists (4.7 per game), steals (1.9 per game) and blocks (0.9 per game). Matthew Butler (national leader in minutes played) and Javier Martinez (.604 field goal percentage) also average double-figures in the scoring column for the Skyhawks, who have played six out of the last seven games without leading scorer Jacolby Mobley.
Jacksonville State (7-7) is also experiencing a resurgence under a first-year head coach, as Ray Harper has guided the program to seven victories after the team he inherited posted an 8-23 record in 2015-16.
The Gamecocks rank seventh nationally in three-point field goal percentage (.422), fueled mostly by Erik Durham (.538, fourth-best percentage in the NCAA). Durham sank eight treys on his way to 31 points in last season’s 82-60 win against UT Martin in Jacksonville.
Fans can watch the game live, free of charge, on the OVC Digital Network at the link above. A radio broadcast of the game can be heard locally on KYTN 104.9 FM or online by clicking the link at the top of the webpage. A link for live stats can also be found at the link above.