MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team turned up its defensive intensity in a 75-67 victory over SIUE in Ohio Valley Conference action at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.
The Skyhawks (14-8, 4-3 OVC) held the visiting Cougars to just five 3-pointers this evening, limiting SIUE to 21.7 percent shooting from three-point range. Overall, UT Martin’s defense held the Cougars to a 36.8 percent (21-of-57) effort from the floor on its way to overcoming a 37-35 halftime deficit.
Jacolby Mobley led the Skyhawks in scoring for the third straight game and sixth time this season, dialing up 18 points tonight. Matthew Butler (14 points) and Kedar Edwards (11 points) also scored in double-figures while Malik London supplied 12 points, a team-high five rebounds and tied a career-high with four blocks in 20 minutes off the bench.
SIUE (5-16, 0-7 OVC) was led by Tre Harris’ 18 points and seven rebounds. Jalen Henry and Keenan Simmons added 17 and 10 points, respectively, for the Cougars.
“We knew on film that SIUE would try to pressure us a little bit and we made some adjustments at halftime,” UT Martin head coach Anthony Stewart said. “We came out in the second half, got the lead and played aggressive. Jacolby is playing as well as anybody in this league, 1 through 5. He’s put in the work and he’s really bought in to what we are trying to do defensively.”
The Skyhawks found themselves in a 4-2 hole to start the game but responded with seven straight points. A Mobley three-pointer at the 15:47 mark of the first half gave UT Martin a five-point lead.
Five lead changes and two ties followed over the next six minutes before a 7-0 SIUE run resulted in a 22-17 Cougar lead with 8:24 to go before the halftime break.
Dante Bailey connected on a three-pointer a little over two minutes later to even the score at 22-all but SIUE reclaimed the lead at the 5:35 mark and carried a two-point lead at the break.
Mobley’s 12 points led all scorers at the half while Henry (11) and Harris (10) both tallied double-digits in the scoring column in the first half.
UT Martin began the second half on a 12-2 run, as a Butler trifecta at the 16:07 mark made the score 47-39 in favor of the Skyhawks. The Cougars reeled off the next six points of the contest but London sank a jumper in the paint on UT Martin’s ensuing possession to stretch the lead back out to 49-45.
A pair of Mobley free throws at the 8:51 mark pushed the Skyhawk advantage out to 54-47. SIUE clawed back within four points with a little over six minutes remaining but a Chandler Rowe jumper in the paint gave UT Martin a 68-58 lead.
Butler knocked down two free throws with 53 ticks left that resulted in the Skyhawks’ biggest lead of the night at 73-60.
UT Martin starts a three-game road trip next week with a nationally televised contest at Austin Peay on Thursday, Jan. 26. The game, which will be broadcasted on CBS Sports Network, is scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m.