CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Jacolby Mobley carried the University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team in the first half while Javier Martinez helped close out the win in an impressive 85-79 Ohio Valley Conference win at Austin Peay.
Mobley supplied 27 of his career-best 36 points in the first half before departing the game with 6:10 remaining because of an injury. The senior out of Starkville, Miss. canned 12 of his 17 field goal attempts (including a 5-of-8 effort from three-point range) while going 7-for-8 from the charity stripe.
A senior from St. Croix, Virgin Islands, Martinez wrapped up 16 points to go along with a career-high 19 rebounds. Nine of his rebounds came on the offensive end as he hauled in the most rebounds of any Skyhawk in 2016-17.
Kahari Beaufort came off the bench to score 12 big points while Matthew Butler accumulated 10 points and a game-high five assists for UT Martin, who improved to 15-8 with a 5-3 OVC mark – resulting in a three-way tie (with Murray State and Southeast Missouri) in the OVC West standings.
The Governors (7-15, 3-5 OVC) were keyed by Josh Robinson’s 21 points while John Murry (18), Kenny Jones (16) and Jared Savage (12) each scored double-digits. Austin Peay connected on 56 percent of its field goal attempts in the final 20 minutes to close an 18-point second half gap to just four points but the Governors could only manage a 22.7 percent shooting effort (5-of-22) for the game.
“Jacolby gave us everything he had tonight and so did this whole team,” UT Martin head coach Anthony Stewart said. “Our team took this game personally after we experienced what happened last year during the conference championship (an 83-73 loss to Austin Peay). They had a lot of hurt in them and had a little more incentive to win. Austin Peay is a heck of a team and it’s good to see Coach Dave Loos back on the sidelines. In the end, our seniors gave us just enough to win tonight.”
Austin Peay scored the first points of the game but Mobley reeled off eight straight points as part of a 12-1 run. Mobley scored on a leaner and added three-pointers on back-to-back trips down the floor to ignite a spurt that resulted in a 12-3 lead at the first media timeout.
Mobley continued his scoring spree with a four-point play at the 14:47 mark. He followed with a bucket on a strong take to the hoop before converting an old-fashioned three-point play to expand UT Martin’s lead out to 21-7 with 13:15 remaining in the first half.
The Governors closed within 10 points before Dante Bailey knocked down a three-pointer from the right wing. Martinez and Butler then combined to score the Skyhawks’ next eight points to give UT Martin an 18-point lead (33-15) with a little over nine minutes to play in the opening stanza.
Austin Peay was able to close within single-digits thanks to an 11-2 run, trimming the Skyhawk lead to 35-26 at the 5:13 mark. However, Mobley heated up once again – scoring eight of UT Martin’s final 12 points of the first half to help the Skyhawks take a 51-37 lead into the locker room.
Mobley’s 27 points and Martinez’s 10 points led the way in the first half for UT Martin, who shot 56.7 percent (17-of-30) from the field. The Governors were paced by Jones’ 10 points but Austin Peay struggled from three-point land, making only one of its nine attempts for a 9.1 percent performance.
Following a Kedar Edwards bucket less than two minutes into the second half, the Governors scored eight of the next 10 points to make the score 55-47. Mobley then broke loose for another scoring surge, tossing in seven points in the span of 1:48. Martinez followed with a backdown and right-hand hook in the paint to pad the Skyhawk advantage to 67-49 with 12:46 remaining.
Robinson sank a three-pointer from the left wing at the 9:15 mark but Beaufort came right back with an old-fashioned three-point play 30 seconds later to push UT Martin’s lead back out to 16 points.
With Mobley out, Austin Peay was able to get back in the game late. The Governors used a 17-5 run to whittle the Skyhawk lead to 79-75 with a little under two minutes to go. Chandler Rowe responded with one of the biggest buckets of the game, a 12-foot turnaround jumper with 1:26 remaining to make the score 81-75.
Austin Peay scored again with 29 seconds left but Edwards and Martinez went 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the final 24 seconds to seal the win.
UT Martin continues its three-game road swing on Saturday, Jan. 28 with a matchup at OVC foe Murray State. Tipoff from the CFSB Center is set for approximately 7 p.m.