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Frigid shooting buries UTM

Frigid shooting buries UTM
Frigid shooting buries UTM

Marquis Weddle eyes the rim during the Skyhawks’ loss to Arkansas State.
UT Martin dug its own hole and Arkansas State was happy to hand in a shovel.
The Skyhawks spotted the Red Wolves, coached by former LSU mentor John Brady, a 23-6 lead through the game’s first 12 minutes during Tuesday evening’s 76-67 defeat.
“Anytime you spot a team that many points, it affects the team’s mentality throughout the game,” UT Martin men’s coach Bret Campbell said afterwards. “We buried ourselves in a deep hole and we had trouble recovering.”
During those opening dozen minutes, UTM shot just 2-of-17 from the field and they finished the first half of play at a clip of 8-of-32.
Ohio Valley Conference Preseason Player of the Year Lester Hudson was especially unimpressive in the first half as he missed his first six shots from the field and finished 2-of-11 before intermission.
Union City High School product Marquis Weddle also had a tough first half as he was just 3-of-11 from the field.
“People are keying in on those guys and I thought they had some good looks (in the first half) that didn’t go down,” Campbell said. “It’s really challenging to shoot 25 percent in the first half and come back.
“I also think that frustration set in and we tried to push plays that we normally wouldn’t and we made some uncharacteristic mistakes. I still believe this is a very good basketball team. Hopefully, we can learn why we got in a hole early and we don’t allow that to reoccur.”
Whereas UT Martin (2-2) came onto the court flat, Arkansas State was solid from the opening tipoff.
The slower style characteristic to Brady’s teams at LSU was employed through much of the evening as UTM was not able to shift the game’s momentum or control the tempo.
“It was difficult for us to get the tempo in our favor,” Campbell said. “Missed shots had a lot to do with that, but our defensive breakdowns also affected our offense.”
The Red Wolves (3-1) led by as many as 20 points with six minutes remaining in the first half, but the Skyhawks did mount their most impressive spurt of the evening — a 10-0 run to cut the deficit in half.
Andres Irarrazabal started the run with a layup at the 5:49 mark, while Weddle and Hudson both dropped in a basket for UTM.
Also during the spurt, Union City product MJ Brown swished the net on a pair of free throws, as did Hudson.
With the score 30-20, the Skyhawks went on to cut as deep as they would for the remainder of the evening into Arkansas State’s lead.
Weddle drained a 3-pointer at the 1:03 mark of the half that got Tennessee-Martin within seven points, down 32-25.
However, the Red Wolves responded with a three by Brandon Ayers and a bucket by Shawn Morgan to hold a 37-25 advantage at intermission.
UTM trailed by upwards of 10 points for the first 17 minutes of the second half, at which point Benzor Simmons drained a trey to cut the deficit to eight with a score of 64-56.
Yet eight was as close as the Skyhawks got on two more occasions down the stretch.
Hudson finished the game with a team-high 23 points, while Weddle, who shot 5-for-16 from beyond the arc, pitched in 22.
Another telling stat was the turnover ratio as UT Martin forced 18 and they gave away 13.
Yet, the Skyhawks were outscored 11-9 on points off turnovers.
UT Martin returns to action on Friday when they play at the University of Southern California.
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at kcoker@ucmessenger.com.

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