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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 6, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Municipal Auditorium (8,000) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: OVC Digital Network. Home Record: UT Martin 7-7, MSU 10-5. Away Record: UT Martin 2-13, MSU 4-12. Neutral Record: UT Martin 0-0, MSU 0-0. Conference Record: UT Martin 5-11, MSU 8-8. Series Record: Morehead State leads, 30-13.
GAME NOTES: The 50th annual Ohio Valley Conference Tournament tips off at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville on Wednesday night, as the Morehead State Eagles clash with the Skyhawks of UT Martin in the first round.
Seeded fifth in this event, Morehead State suffered a few bumps in the road the last few weeks with three defeats in the last four outings. The Eagles, winners of this tourney a total of four times, most recently with a triumph over Tennessee Tech in 2011, closed out the regular season with a 72-66 setback against that same Tech squad on the road on Saturday.
As for the eighth-seeded Skyhawks, a squad which has a record of just 3-8 in this tournament over the years and has yet to bring home the trophy, they too closed out the regular season in defeat, bowing to Austin Peay last Saturday by a lopsided 91-58 margin. The squad logged just five conference wins on the campaign and a total of nine victories overall.
In terms of the all-time series between the programs, MSU owns a 30-13 advantage over the Skyhawks, stringing together seven straight victories in the relationship. The Eagles won the lone meeting this season by a score of 88-74 on the road.
The winner of this meeting will go up against fourth-seeded Tennessee State in the quarterfinals on Thursday night.
In conference play, the Skyhawks shot only 38.6 percent from the floor as they logged 64.4 ppg. The team had a lot of trouble slowing down the rest of the league as opponents connected on not only 48.2 percent of their field goal chances but also 37.2 percent beyond the arc, en route to a lofty 76.8 ppg. Juggling the starting lineup didn't help the Skyhawks either, with not a single player starting all 16 contests, Myles Taylor came closest with 15 starts, so it makes sense that he also led the program in scoring (16.0 ppg) and rebounding (7.6 rpg) in those bouts, followed by Mike Liabo (12.3 ppg) and Terence Smith (10.3 ppg) on offense.
A balanced scoring attack was the hallmark of the Eagles in conference play this season, with as many as six players scoring at least 7.3 ppg, but no one reaching 12.0 ppg over the course of those 16 bouts. Angelo Warner, one of two to have started every OVC outing, led the way with 11.9 ppg, picking up almost one-third of his points at the free-throw line (60-of-76). Bakari Turner split his time between being a starter and a valued reserve, yet still came up with 11.3 ppg and will it is important to have him on the floor for his scoring potential, having almost three times as many turnovers (36) as assists (13) does make him a liability at times as well.
There is something to be said about one team's dominance over another and while UTM is probably due to break through against the Eagles, it probably won't happen in this meeting.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Morehead State 73, UT Martin 64
03/06 10:38:43 ET