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UTM clocks out early in loss

UTM clocks out early in loss
By KEVIN WEAKS
Messenger Sports
UT Martin just can’t seem to put together a full 40 minutes.
A 12-minute stretch in the fourth quarter doomed the Skyhawks in their latest setback, a 72-59 loss to Tennessee State Thursday night at the Elam Center.
“We just go through stretches where we’re not focused, we seem uninterested on both ends and we don’t take care of the ball,” UT Martin head coach Jason James said. “We miss shots on our end, and they hit shots on their end. It’s been our story all year. We just have stretches where we lack focus, and games are getting away from us.”
All of those things conspired to beat the Skyhawks.
Between 18:18 and 6:14 of the second half, UTM (3-19, 0-9 Ohio Valley Conference) saw a 29-all tie turn into a 60-40 deficit, the 31-11 TSU run ignited by a 15-2 burst that saw the Skyhawk miss five shots while Patrick Miller hit three field goals for the Tigers.
“It’s a 40-minute game,” James said. “You have to be consistent.”
Problems that have plagued the Skyhawks all season reared up again. UTM committed 20 turnovers, which the Tigers converted into 25 points.
“We’ve been preaching that all year, but we have trouble understanding it,” James said “When you have 20 turnovers you’re beating yourself, and we did that a bunch. It’s just a matter of not beating ourselves and gaining more confidence on the offensive end.”
Until that 12:04 blemish, the Skyhawks were poised to break their league winless streak and pick up their first win of 2012.
Despite a 10-0 run by Tennessee State that put the Tigers in front 20-10 at 9:45 of the first half, UT Martin kept the game close and trailed by just a point at halftime.
In fact, the Skyhawks TSU’s run with one of their own, outscoring the Tigers 15-2 to take a 25-22 lead at 2:19.
Gary Love hit a 3-pointer, and Mike Liabo hit four times from the free throw line to get UTM within a point, and then Corderio Maclin scored back-to-back buckets to put UTM in front.
Tennessee State (12-10, 5-4) scored the last four points of the half, and then Dane Smith tied the game twice in the opening minutes of the second half.
Miller led the Tigers’ game-breaking burst, and although UTM outscored the Tennessee State 19-12 the rest of the way, the Skyhawks could not get any closer than 12 points in the final six minutes.
“In the first half, we were pretty good defensively,” James said. “We got out after the shooters and contested shots in the first half. We outrebounded them, which is good. They only had seven offensive rebounds, which is around the number we want.”
Smith led four UTM players in double figures with 13 points. Liabo and Myles Taylor each scored 11, and Maclin added 10 points for the Skyhawks. Smith also had a game-high seven rebounds as UT Martin held a 31-29 edge in that category.
Miller led all players with 17 points, Kellen Thornton added 14 points, and Robert Covington scored 11 for the Tigers. Published in The Messenger 1.27.12

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