Tennessee-Martin (5-11) at Austin Peay (6-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 2, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dunn Center (7,275) -- Clarksville, Tennessee. Television: none. Home Record: UTM 3-4, APSU 4-2. Away Record: UTM 2-7, APSU 1-5. Neutral Record: UTM 0-0, APSU 1-1. Conference Record: UTM 0-1, APSU 0-0. Series Record: Austin Peay leads, 68-25.
GAME NOTES: Austin Peay' Dave Loos has had plenty of success against Tennessee-Martin throughout his career. The Governors open their Ohio Valley Conference schedule on Thursday against the Skyhawks, a team Austin Peay has dominated under their current head coach.
Loos has a 31-11 record against UT Martin, including a 7-1 ledger versus Skyhawks coach Jason James. The Governors have captured seven of the last eight meetings between the two teams. The Skyhawks haven't won on Austin Peay's home court since Feb. 5, 2009.
Austin Peay comes off a 93-57 victory against NAIA competitor Dalton State Monday, a contest in which the Governors shot an incredible 69.8 percent from the field. That broke a three-game skid. Senior guard Travis Betran went 6- of-9 from beyond the arc and finished with a game-high 24 points. Zavion Williams made all three of his 3-point attempts and added 17 points, while Will Triggs scored 12, and Demarius Smith tallied nine points and 12 rebounds.
This has been a sparkling season for Austin Peay sophomore center Chris Horton, who is averaging 13.7 ppg and 9.9 rpg. Horton entered this week ranked 10th in the nation in field-goal percentage (.625). Betran (13.4 ppg), Triggs (10.8 ppg) and Williams (9.5 ppg) are some other key contributors to a team that's been picked to finished third in OVC's West Division behind Southeast Missouri and Murray State in the preseason poll. A big issue this season for the Governors is turnovers, which they average 17.3 per contest. Also, their free-throw shooting needs drastic improvement from the current 66.4 percent mark. APSU has already lost at home twice this season.
The Skyhawks opened their conference slate with a 70-65 loss at Jacksonville State Monday. Marshun Newell led the Skyhawks with a career-high 21 points, while Terence Smith finished with 14 and Myles Taylor scored 12. UT Martin wasted a double-digit lead in the second half and suffered its third straight loss. The Skyhawks are giving up an average of 79.0 ppg. That's next-to-last in the OVC. The Skyhawks are also shooting a conference-low 39.6 percent from the field, while allowing teams to convert at a 51.3 percent clip.
Taylor, who suffered a knee injury in the season finale in Clarksville last season, paces UTM with 16.0 ppg and 6.1 rpg. Smith (14.1 ppg), senior forward Mike Liabo (12.2 ppg) and Newell (11.6 ppg) are all part of a team that averages 70.6 ppg. Unlike Austin Peay, the Skyhawks have been pretty proficient at the charity stripe by making 71.4 percent of their attempts, which ranks third in the OVC.
Despite their record this season, the Skyhawks have been great at forcing turnovers, something that could play a role in this contest. UTM is a plus-55 in the turnover margin this season. That could keep this game close.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Austin Peay 76, Tennessee-Martin 67
01/02 10:32:00 ET