GAME NOTES: The SIU Edwardsville Cougars play the second leg of a three-game homestand when they entertain the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks in an Ohio Valley Conference battle at the Vadalabene Center on Saturday night.
On Thursday, Mark Yelovich scored a game-high 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Cougars to an 80-77 victory over the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks. For the Cougars, Jerome Jones added 19 points, Michael Messer finished with 13 points, and Kris Davis chipped in with 12.
Jones (15.7 ppg) leads the team in scoring, followed by Davis (10.6 ppg) and Yelovich (10.2). The Cougars are fourth in the OVC and 57th in the nation in 3-point field goal defense. They are holding opponents to 30.4 percent shooting from long range. In the last four games, SIU Edwardsville's opponents were a combined 15-of-71 (.211) from 3-point range. In seven OVC games, SIUE opponents are making just 26.4 percent of their shots from beyond the arc. Jones comes into tonight's game 25th in the NCAA in 3-point percentage (.436). The Cougars, who are one of only six teams at the NCAA Division I level with no freshmen on their roster, are third in the OVC in 3-point percentage, making 38 percent of their shots.
The Skyhawks round out a two-game road swing tonight. On Thursday, Eastern Illinois beat UTM, 69-56. Myles Taylor led all scorers with 21 points for the Skyhawks, while Terence Smith finished with 13 point and seven assists. The Panthers outscored the Skyhawks, 19-5, off turnovers.
Taylor has really stepped up for the Skyhawks. Since 2000, no sophomore has finished the season in the top-five in the OVC in both scoring and rebounding. Taylor currently ranks fifth in scoring (16.9 points per game) and tied for fifth in rebounding (7.5 per game). Mike Liabo (12.5 ppg) is second in scoring. He has drained a career-best five 3-pointers five times in his last 15 games.
SIUE defeated UTM in the only meeting last season, winning on the road, 69-65. The Skyhawks have won two of the three contests against SIU Edwardsville since the Cougars joined the conference in 2008.
UT-Martin's defense is the worst in the OVC, as the Skyhawks allow 75.8 points a game. Also, they're shooting just 38.4 percent, which is worst in the conference. It all translates to an SIUE triumph.