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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 10, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gentry Center (10,500) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: UTM 4-4, TSU 5-0. Away Record: UTM 0-8, TSU 3-6. Neutral Record: UTM 0-0, TSU 1-1. Conference Record: UTM 1-3, TSU 3-0. Series Record:Tennessee State leads, 30-20.
GAME NOTES: The Tennessee State Tigers look to stay perfect at the Gentry Center as they welcome the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks to Nashville for an Ohio Valley Conference tilt.
UTM snapped a seven-game losing streak with a thrilling 76-74 overtime victory over Austin Peay on Saturday, which also served as the team's first OVC win of the season after an 0-3 start to league play. Coach Jason James has his work cut out for him, as the Skyhawks are 4-12 overall due to their insufficient abilities on the defensive end of the floor. They are second to last in the OVC in scoring defense with an allowed average of 74.4 points per contest, which is greater than their own scoring output of 67.1 ppg.
The Tigers picked up their fourth consecutive victory on Saturday as they downed Jacksonville State, 66-57, on the road to remain unbeaten in OVC play. TSU came into league action with a sub-.500 record, but its three wins over conference rivals improved it to 9-7 overall, which includes its perfect 5-0 mark at home. Coach Travis Williams has been impressive in his first season at the helm of the program, especially considering all of his squad's four triumphs during the current streak have come without star forward Robert Covington.
Tennessee State owns a 30-20 edge in its all-time series versus UTM after defeating the Skyhawks twice last season by a total of 29 points.
Myles Taylor came up in the clutch for UTM in its hard-fought two-point decision over the Governors. The sophomore forward tallied 19 points including the game-winning free throws in the extra session and notched a double-double by adding 13 boards. Mike Liabo scored a team-high 21 points off the bench, while Terence Smith produced 11 points and five assists. The Skyhawks showed some perseverance as they limited APSU to 26.7 percent shooting from the floor in the second half after allowing it to knock down 52 percent of its shots before the break. The Governors were able to outscore UTM by 16 points at the free throw line, but the Skyhawks emerged victorious thanks to their 44-32 edge on the glass. Taylor, who is the reigning OVC Freshman of the Year, is the go-to-guy on the offensive end as he nets 16.4 points and 7.6 boards per game. Liabo provides instant offense off the pine with 13.4 points in only 25.6 minutes per game.
Taylor will have his work cut out for him as he tangles with the red-hot M.J. Rhett in the post. The sophomore forward has been picking up the slack with Covington out and registered his second-straight double-double versus the Gamecocks with 10 points and 16 boards. Kellen Thornton also submitted a double-double of his own with 14 points and the same number of rebounds. While Rhett and Thornton have stepped it up, so have Patrick Miller and Jordan Cypher. Miller has produced 20 ppg during the current four-game winning streak and Cyphers is close behind at 15.3. TSU is averaging 68 ppg without Covington in the lineup, but its opposition has managed only 61.5 ppg over the past four games.
The Skyhawks face the tough test of escaping the Gentry Center with a win, but their chances are much better with Covington on the bench. TSU has received stellar play from Rhett, but there is no telling how long the 6-9 sophomore will be able to keep posting double-doubles. Taylor really needs to set the tone with another strong outing to give UTM a shot.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee State 67, Tennessee-Martin 62
01/10 10:34:41 ET
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