UTM men take steps back in OVC road loss at SEMO

UTM men take steps back in OVC road loss at SEMO

Posted: Friday, January 7, 2011 12:02 am

UTM men take steps back in OVC road loss at SEMO

SIMMONS
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team clawed back from a 13-point, first-half deficit to tie the game in the early portion of the second half Monday night, but ultimately 36 points from Leon Powell and some timely buckets down the stretch by Lucas Nutt gave Southeast Missouri an 82-75 win at the Show Me Center.
Benzor Simmons led the Skyhawks with 21 points and seven rebounds, while Terence Smith was UT Martin’s next highest scorer with 14 points. Freshmen Troy King and Mike Liabo also added 10 points for the Skyhawks, who fall to 4-11 and 0-4 in Ohio Valley Conference play.
Powell’s 36 points are the most the Skyhawks have allowed since Austin Peay’s Drake Reed scored 35 points on Feb. 5, 2009. Nutt added 22 points and a game-high six assists, while Anthony Allison scored 13 points for Southeast Missouri (4-11), which has won three straight OVC games.
“We weren’t ready to play and you can’t do that in league play, especially on the road,” UT Martin head coach Jason James said. “Inconsistency is what is killing us right now. I thought we started to turn the corner against Tennessee and Murray State, but we have taken about four or five steps backwards. We have to get back to where we were.”
King got UT Martin on the scoreboard at the 18:14 mark, draining a 3-pointer from the left corner to knot the score at 3-3. A putback by Dane Smith a little under a minute later gave the Skyhawks a 5-3 lead, but Nutt responded with a 3-pointer on Southeast Missouri’s next possession to put the Redhawks back on top.
UT Martin tied the game at 7-all and 9-all before the Skyhawks went cold, allowing Southeast Missouri to go on a 12-0 run over a stretch of 4:10. A Liabo pull-up jumper put an end to UT Martin’s scoring drought at the 8:43 mark, as the Skyhawk deficit then fluctuated between 11 and 13 points until a big run got UT Martin back in the game.
A contested fadeaway jumper from King ignited a 13-4 run in a span of 3:02 to make the score 34-30 in Southeast Missouri’s favor. A Powell old-fashioned 3-point play pushed the Redhawk lead back to seven, but King answered right back 24 seconds later with a trey from the top of the key. Liabo sank a leaner on UT Martin’s next possession to make it a one-possession game, and the teams swapped points on each trip down the floor to close out the first half with the score 41-39 in Southeast Missouri’s favor.
King and Simmons each had 10 points to lead the Skyhawks at the break, while Powell’s 19 points topped Southeast Missouri. Allison also reached double figures (11 points) for the Redhawks in the game’s first 20 minutes.
Powell scored the first four points of the second half for Southeast Missouri, but Terence Smith and Simmons each poured in four points in an 8-2 UT Martin run to tie the game at 49 with just under 14 minutes to play.
However, Southeast Missouri then scored six unanswered points before Reuben Clayton made a pull-up jumper in the lane to get UT Martin back within four. Nutt then took over for the Redhawks, scoring seven straight points in 58 seconds to give Southeast Missouri an eight-point advantage.
Liabo was responsible for the next six Skyhawk points but a layup by Nutt with 4:40 remaining gave Southeast Missouri a 70-60 lead. The Redhawks stretched their lead to 12 on two different occasions, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Terence Smith got UT Martin within seven points with 1:23 to go. A free throw and putback by Simmons on separate possessions pulled the Skyhawks within seven again, but that was as close as the Skyhawks got the rest of the way.
The Skyhawks will now return home for a two-game OVC homestand, beginning on Saturday, when they will play host to the Tennessee State Tigers. Tipoff from the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center is set for 6 p.m. The UT Martin men will then host Austin Peay State University Governors on Monday evening with a 6 p.m. tipoff time.

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