Tennessee-Martin (0-2) at Arkansas State (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, November 13, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (10,475) -- Jonesboro, Arkansas. Television: None. Home Record: Tennessee-Martin 0-0, Arkansas State 0-0. Away Record: Tennessee-Martin 0-2, Arkansas State 1-0. Neutral Record: Tennessee- Martin 0-0, Arkansas State 0-0. Conference Record: Tennessee-Martin 0-0, Arkansas State 0-0. Series Record: Arkansas State leads, 14-5.
GAMES NOTES: Arkansas State will play its first home game of the season on Wednesday when the Red Wolves welcome the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks for a non-conference matchup at the Convocation Center.
The Skyhawks have already played two games on the young season and the returns have not been good. After losing a contest with Wyoming (78-60) in the season opener the Skyhawks fell on the road to Colorado (91-65) on Sunday. Dating back to last season Tennessee-Martin has lost five of its last seven games. Some of the blame for the rough start to the year can clearly be put on the absence of Myles Taylor and Mike Liabo. The pair were the leading scorers for the Skyhawks last year but Taylor is still out with an ACL tear and Liabo is suspended indefinitely.
Arkansas State has only had one test so far this season but it passed with a 65-61 road victory over Jackson State. The Red Wolves were trailing by four points with just over four minutes to play but a 13-2 run down the stretch allowed them to pull away for the victory. It was a good sign for the Red Wolves, who went just 5-9 away from home last year. They were much better at home with 13 wins in 15 tries at the Convocation Center. As a result, Arkansas State was able to earn its largest win total since 1998 as it was 19-12 overall.
It took three overtimes for the Red Wolves and Skyhawks to settle their differences last year. In the end the Red Wolves prevailed behind 19 points off the bench from Ed Townsel. Arkansas State has now won six straight against Tennessee-Martin to move to 14-5 in the all-time series.
Not having your best scorers doesn't fully excuse how much the Skyhawks have struggled on defense. In two games, Tennessee-Martin is allowing 84.5 points per game on 53.8 percent shooting. The Skyhawks' work on the boards has been less than stellar also with the squad bringing down just 54 rebounds in the two games combined. Not having Taylor and Liabo does create some issues on the offensive end. Still, Marshun Newell has established himself as the dominant scorer going forward. Newell had 15 points in the loss to Colorado after putting in 14 points in the season opener. Newell is also averaging four assists and two steals per game. Dee Oldham (13.0 ppg) and Terence Smith (12.5 ppg) are each averaging in double figures as well, but each has struggled with efficiency, with neither shooting above 40 percent from the field.
The Red Wolves really should have had less trouble with the Tigers in the opener, but Townsel struggled with his shot and ended without a single basket, as he missed all nine of his field goal attempts. Townsel was the leading scorer for the Red Wolves last year when he averaged 13.1 points per game. Getting him back on track will be crucial going forward. Cameron Golden came off the bench and delivered, netting a game-high 16 points in the win. Golden started in 20 games last year and averaged just over seven points per game. Also in double figures were Kirk Van Slyke (14 points) and Melvin Johnson III (13 points). Neither of the two played in a game for the Red Wolves last year.
It is going to be a difficult task all year for the Skyhawks to find offense without Taylor and Liabo on the floor. Minus the duo, Tennessee-Martin doesn't have enough offense to handle many teams. Townsel should find his stroke once again after shaking off the rust in the opener. A return to form from him will give the Red Wolves an even bigger advantage.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas State 67, Tennessee-Martin 58
11/13 10:33:03 ET