GAMES NOTES: With the regular season coming to a close two struggling teams will meet up on BracketBusters weekend when the Longwood Lancers play the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks at the Elam Center.
Longwood is actually in the midst of its best stretch of the season with wins in three of its last four contests after winning a 102-101 shootout over Liberty last time out. The Lancers are still just 6-22 overall this season and at 3-11 in league play, they are dead last in the Big South standings. This contest kicks off a three-game road trip to end the season for the Lancers.
The Skyhawks have lost three of their last our outings after an 83-68 defeat on the road against Tennessee Tech on Thursday. Tennessee-Martin has been only slightly better than Longwood record wise this season with a 7-19 overall ledger and a 4-10 mark against fellow Ohio Valley Conference teams. The Skyhawks, who are 6-7 at the Elam Center, finish the season with two road tests against Murray State and Austin Peay.
This battle marks the first ever meeting between these two programs on the hardwood.
With 28 seconds left against Liberty, Longwood led 99-92 but by missing 5-of-8 attempts from the free-throw line the Lancers almost let the lead slip away. The Lancers shot an even 50 percent in the contest and hit 31-of-41 shots from the charity stripe, while Tristan Carey had a monster game (40 points, 12 rebounds).
The 40 points from Carey were a career-high for the junior and Division I school record for the Lancers. Carey (15.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg) has quite often been at the top of the stat sheet in points as the leader of three different players averaging in double figures. Michael Kessens (12.8 ppg, 8.6 rpg) is a solid contributor in the frontcourt as he finishes off 54.1 percent of his field goal attempts.Jeylani Dublin (10.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg) is another reliable contributor who shoots above 50 percent from the field. Longwood has really struggled to keep foes in check this season, allowing 81.3 points per game on 49.3 percent shooting. Each of those marks is among the five worst in the country.
Tennessee-Martin shot below 40 percent from the field and allowed Tennessee Tech to hit on 52.9 percent from the field in its 15-point loss to the Golden Eagles. The Skyhawks were outscored 41-24 in the paint and by a 20-13 margin in points off turnovers.
Myles Taylor (16.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg) was once again at the forefront for the Skyhawks' offensive efforts against Tennessee Tech. The 6-foot-7 forward had a team-high 15 points in the losing effort and has now scored in double figures in all but one game this season. Mike Liabo (12.8 ppg) is also scoring in double figures but he is connecting on just 36.5 percent of his attempts from the floor. Terence Smith (9.3 ppg) has seen his production rise with increased minutes of late but still isn't a dominant offensive threat. The Skyhawks are also a weak defensive team as they let up 76.3 points per game on 45.9 percent shooting.
Both of these teams will likely run up big scores as neither plays particularly well on defense. A shootout would benefit Taylor and the hosting Skyhawks.