Tennessee-Martin (3-7) at Saint Louis (5-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 15, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Chaifetz Arena (10,600) -- St. Louis, Missouri. Television: None. Home Record: UTM 3-1, Saint Louis 4-1. Away Record: UTM 0-6, Saint Louis 0-1. Neutral Record: UTM 0-0, Saint Louis 1-1. Conference Record: UTM 0-0, Saint Louis 0-0. Series Record: St. Louis leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: The Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks will pay a visit to Chaifetz Arena to take on the Saint Louis Billikens in a non-conference matchup.
UTM has dropped four of its last five contests and has been idle since last Saturday's 86-62 tuneup at the hands of Lipscomb. The Skyhawks have struggled mightily on the road, losing in all six tries so far this season. Following this tilt, they'll return home to face Samford on Wednesday, followed by a nine-day break leading into their Ohio Valley Conference opener.
Saint Louis has picked up steam of late, winning three of its last four outings. The Billikens have been out of action since knocking off North Texas last Wednesday, 67-63. They are in the third game of a nine-game homestand that began on Dec. 2 and will stretch through Jan. 10. when UMass comes to town for the Atlantic 10 opener.
Saint Louis leads the all-time series with UTM, 2-1, although this is the first meeting since 2007.
The Skyhawks were without the services of four starters against Lipscomb, and it showed as they trailed by 19 at halftime and went on to shoot just 33.3 percent for the game. One of the few positives head coach Jason James took from the outcome was that the younger guys had a chance to log some minutes. UTM did manage to force 20 turnovers, but Lipscomb's huge 49-33 rebounding advantage proved too tough to overcome. Myles Taylor and Khristian Taylor shared team-high scoring honors with 14 points apiece in the loss. Myles Taylor has really emerged as a steadying presence, having started all 10 games while averaging a team-best 16.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per tilt. After leading all OVC freshmen in scoring a year ago, Taylor has scored in double figures in all but one game this season and currently ranks in the top-10 in the OVC in rebounding (7.4 per game, 4th), free-throw percentage (.860, 5th) and scoring (16.6 per game, 7th).
For Saint Louis, the offensive workload is divided up rather evenly by as many as six or seven players on a given day. Dwayne Evans, a 62.5-percent shooter from the floor who has started all eight games, leads the way with 13.4 ppg and 6.5 rpg. Even with those numbers, three teammates have taken more shots than Evans. Cody Ellis (13.0 ppg) paces the squad with 18 3-pointers (.353) and an 89-percent success rate at the free-throw line (32-of-36). Mike McCall, Jr. (10.5 ppg) is also dangerous from the perimeter, where he has buried 13- of-25 attempts (.520). Against North Texas last week, the Billikens used a 17-2 run to jump out to a 10-point lead midway through the first half. However, the Mean Green weathered the storm and rallied back to take a two- point halftime lead. Junior guard Jordair Jett scored 14 of his team-high 17 points in the second half, and his go-ahead jumper with 35 seconds remaining broke a 61-61 tie.
This is the part of the schedule where the Billikens would really like to string together some wins before getting into their conference slate. The shorthanded Skyhawks face long odds entering Chaifetz Arena, but coming off a long layoff and with young legs, they'll bring some energy.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Louis 79, Tennessee-Martin 65
12/15 10:35:12 ET