GAME NOTES: The Samford Bulldogs seek their first road win of the season on Wednesday when they visit the Elam Center for non-conference action against the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks.
The Bulldogs have lost three in a row and nine of their last 10 games to fall to 2-10 on the season. Samford endured a 73-57 setback to Sam Houston State on Saturday. Its only win over a Division I opponent came two weeks prior over Georgia Southern (57-48). Coach Bernie Seltzer's offensive system has led to a mere 58.1 points per game, while his squad is allowing opponents to produce 69 ppg.
UTM was defeated at Saint Louis by 23 points on Saturday which dropped its record to 3-8, tied for the worst among Ohio Valley Conference schools. The loss was the third in a row to conclude a three-game road trip for the Skyhawks, who have only beat one Division I opponent thus far. UTM is shooting just under 40 percent from the floor for a 69.1 point per game average, while giving up 76.3 ppg.
The Bulldogs own a 7-4 all-time record against UT-Martin in a rivalry that began just over 20 years ago on Dec. 5, 1992. These schools were OVC rivals until Samford migrated to the Southern Conference in 2008.
Samford snapped a two-game streak of being held under 40 percent shooting its last time out by converting 19-of-44 attempts from the floor (.432) versus SHSU. The Bulldogs have not reached the 70-point plateau this season. Clide Geffrard Jr. finished with team-highs of 16 points and six rebounds and Raijon Kelly netted 15 points in 39 minutes of action. Kelly and Tim Williams have both scored in double figures in all 12 of the team's games. Williams, the Bulldogs' true freshman guard, is leading the squad in both scoring (14.6 ppg) and rebounding (8.0 rpg) this year, while Kelly is averaging 13.7 points and 3.4 assists per contest.
The Skyhawks got off decent start on the offensive end versus the Billikens and converted 42.3 percent of their field goals in the first half, but SLU drained 58.6 percent of its shots from the floor to earn a 17-point halftime lead. Although both teams cooled off from the field after the break, UTM made eight less free throws and finished with seven fewer rebounds in the 22-point loss. Myles Taylor tallied a game-high 20 points, but he was the lone bright spot. The second-year forward is leading the Skyhawks in scoring (16.9) and rebounding (7.1). Mike Liabo (13.2 ppg) and Justin Childs (10.8 ppg) provide both scoring and ball handling out of the backcourt.
With two teams desperate for a win, this one could be a spirited matchup. Samford is a very young team that will take time to develop. Winning on the road is very hard to do for a squad still learning the ropes. UTM has a few more options on the offensive end and its inability to stop opponents from scoring will be less obvious against the low-scoring Bulldogs.