Skyhawk stunner at UAB tops list
Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 12:02 pm
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team trailed for only 30 seconds of Sunday’s game at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, saving its best defensive effort of the season to generate a big 59-54 victory over the Conference USA perennial powerhouse in Bartow Arena.
“Every win is big but this one ranks right up there (with the biggest of my career),” UT Martin head coach Jason James said. “In my three years of being the head coach here, I’ve never been more proud of a group of young men just for the fact of staying together for 40 minutes. We’ve had times where we’ve played well in spurts in other games but for 40 minutes we played the right way tonight.”
The Skyhawks (2-5) were led by sophomore Mike Liabo, who poured in 18 of his career-high 22 points in the second half. The Naples, Fla., native scored 11 straight points for the Skyhawks in a critical stretch of 2:11 in the second half and came through with two late clutch free throws to cap off a perfect 6-for-6 effort from the charity stripe.
Freshman Myles Taylor also stood out for UT Martin, collecting the second double-double of his young career with 13 points and 10 rebounds. The Little Rock, Ark., native added a pair of blocks and two steals as well, while doing most of his damage from the free throw line (9-for-12). Point guard Omari Minor added seven points, three assists and three steals and played a crucial role down the stretch for the Skyhawks.
UAB — coming off a 22-9 campaign last season — was led by Cameron Moore and Jordan Swing, who each scored 15 points. Ovie Soko also added a dozen points for the Blazers, who turned the ball over 16 times and were held to 21.4 percent shooting from three-point range.
The Skyhawks will return home for a two-game homestand, hosting Central Arkansas at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, then battling Ball State at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.
Miss. St. 76, UTM 50
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Despite a career night by senior guard Dane Smith, the University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team fell at the hands of No. 24 Mississippi State.
Smith — a 6-3 Toronto native — produced his second best career scoring output in the last three games, pouring in 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting in 37 minutes. His previous career-best scoring effort was 15 points just six days ago against Rochester.
Myles Taylor also added a dozen points in 25 minutes for the Skyhawks (1-5), who tied a season-high with 10 steals.
Dee Bost and Rodney Hood each scored 17 points to lead the Bulldogs, while Wendell Lewis compiled a double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds) and DeVille Smith scored 15 points off the bench for Mississippi State (6-1).
“We played a lot better in the first half than we’ve been playing for awhile,” James said. “We missed about six or seven layups in the first half and obviously you can’t do that against a team like Mississippi State. They’re a legit No. 24 team in the country.” Published in The WCP 11.29.11