Tennessee-Martin (7-18) at SIU Edwardsville (9-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 8, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Vadalabene Center (4,200) -- Edwardsville, Illinois. Television: FSN-MW. Home Record: UTM 5-6, SIUE 8-3. Away Record: UTM 2-12, SIUE 1-10. Neutral Record: UTM 0-0, SIUE 0-2. Conference Record: UTM 2-8, SIUE 5-5. Series Record: Tennessee-Martin leads, 6-4.
GAME NOTES: The Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks will hope for better luck in the third leg of their current four-game road trip, as they take on the SIU Edwardsville Cougars in an Ohio Valley Conference clash at the Vadalabene Center.
Tennessee-Martin has suffered losses to Eastern Kentucky (89-66) and Eastern Illinois (91-79) in the first two stops, while losing three straight overall. The Skyhawks are just 7-18 this season, including a 2-8 success rate against the rest of the OVC. They will visit Southeast Missouri State next, before finishing the regular season with a four-game homestand.
SIU Edwardsville needed overtime, but it managed to collect a 93-88 win over Southeast Missouri State on Thursday. The Cougars have won three of their last four games, including an 87-82 triumph over the Skyhawks on Jan. 25. They are still just 9-14 overall, but they've pulled even in conference play (5-5).
Even though SIUE topped Tennessee-Martin in the first matchup this season, the Skyhawks still have the edge in the all-time series, 6-4.
The Skyhawks had an incredible first half against Eastern Illinois on Thursday, but they couldn't replicate it in the second. They connected on 69.6 percent from the floor, including a 7-of-10 showing from 3-point range in the opening period, followed by a 26.9 percent effort after the break, and they did not record a single triple over the final 20 minutes.
Defense has been the real weakness for Tennessee-Martin this season, although by shooting the worst percentage from the floor (.417) in the conference it clearly has issues offensively as well. The Skyhawks are letting up 81.2 ppg on 52.2 percent shooting to their competitors. Myles Taylor (15.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Terence Smith (14.5 ppg) head up the offensive attack as two of four players averaging in double figures. Taylor tallied 17 points against Eastern Illinois and Smith added 14. Mike Liabo (12.7 ppg) has the ability to score, but he was limited to three points on 1-of-8 shooting on Thursday.
Keaton Jackson saved SIU Edwardsville with a layup to force overtime and then scored four points during a 10-4 run for the Cougars to take control in the extra session on Thursday. Jackson finished with 16 points off the bench, although he did not sink one of the team's 13 3-pointers.
SIUE has also struggled to string together stops this season, allowing 76 ppg on nearly 50 percent shooting to its opponents. The Cougars counter by scoring 72.8 ppg and shooting 46.5 percent from the field. Donivine Stewart (11.5 ppg, 4.4 apg) is the leading scorer on a roster, which clearly favors balance over individual efforts. Although Stewart is the only player putting in more than 10 ppg, there are a total of eight players netting at least 6.8 ppg. Stewart had 11 points and as many assists on Thursday, while Rozell Nunn (8.2 ppg) took a turn as the unit's top scorer, with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor.
At present, neither of these teams looks to be a serious challenger for the OVC crown. However, the Cougars have been more consistent in league play and are a solid team at home (8-2).
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: SIU Edwardsville 72, Tennessee-Martin 64
02/08 10:35:47 ET