Tennessee State (2-16) at Tenneseee-Martin (5-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, January 13, 8:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Elam Center (5,000) -- Martin, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: TSU 2-5, UTM 3-5. Away Record: TSU 0-9, UTM 2-9. Neutral Record: TSU 0-2, UTM 0-0. Conference Record: TSU 1-3, UTM 0-4. Series Record: Tennessee State leads, 32-22.
GAME NOTES: Two teams desperate for a victory will settle their differences on Monday night, as the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks host the Tennessee State Tigers in an Ohio Valley Conference clash at the Elam Center.
It has been a dismal campaign for Tennessee State, which enters this contest with just two wins in 18 chances. On Saturday, the Tigers were handed a second straight setback at Southeast Missouri State. Neither of their two wins have come during their nine road games, which is bad news for this one, as well as for their next bout at Jacksonville State.
Tennessee-Martin has also been struggling this season, with a record of only 5-14. The Skyhawks were set down by Belmont in an 87-72 final on Saturday for their sixth straight loss and fourth in as many attempts in league action. They will move on to visit Morehead State this Saturday.
During last season's only meeting, the Tigers annihilated the Skyhawks by a final score of 80-48. It was the third straight win for Tennessee State in the series, which it leads by a 32-22 margin.
Although Tennessee State had some success offensively, netting 48.4 percent from the floor against SEMO, it really failed on defense. The Tigers were lit up by a 65.3 percent shooting effort from the Gamecocks, which included a 9- of-16 showing from beyond the arc.
Normally the Tigers are bogged down by inefficient shooting, as they are next- to-last in the OVC in field goal percentage (.413), while also ranking in the bottom of the league in both scoring (67.6 ppg) and assists (9.9 apg). The lack of offensive firepower has come despite the presence of Patrick Miller (21.8 ppg, 4.3 apg), who leads the OVC in scoring and is seemingly trying to carry the Tigers all by himself. Miller certainly did so on Saturday, pouring in a career-high 37 points to go with seven assists. M.J. Rhett (10.4 ppg, 9.6 rpg) is the only other double-digit scorer on the roster and is coming off a 13-point, 10-rebound effort. Jacquan Nobles (6.3 ppg) has had flashes of brilliance, such as his season-high 23-point outburst against SEMO.
The same defensive deficiencies that plagued Tennessee State also doomed UT- Martin on Saturday. The Skyhawks allowed Belmont to connect on 58.3 percent of its field goal attempts, while shooting just 34.3 percent themselves. Mike Liabo dropped in a team-high 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting off the bench in the defeat.
The effort the Skyhawks put forth against Belmont was right in line with their overall production this season. That is clearly not a good thing as they are allowing 80.2 ppg and 51.8 percent shooting, while ranking dead last in the OVC in field goal percentage (.394). They do a better job of spreading the wealth than the Tigers, with Myles Taylor (15.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg) serving as the top scorer among four players averaging in double figures. Terence Smith (14.2 ppg), Liabo (12.1 ppg) and Marshun Newell (11.4 ppg) also chime in, but Liabo is the only one of that trio shooting better than 40 percent from the floor.
With their more balanced attack and the advantage of playing at home, the Skyhawks should be able to get into the win column in league play for the first time this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee-Martin 66, Tennessee State 60
01/13 10:36:11 ET