MEMPHIS — Mike Liabo, Justin Childs and Myles Taylor combined for 54 points at Memphis, but the UT Martin men fell by a 93-65 margin to the Tigers Thursday night at FedEx Forum.
Liabo tied a career-high with five 3-pointers, ending with 21 points, four rebounds and four assists in 27 minutes off the bench. It was his ninth career 20-point outing, hitting 7-for-13 from the field including his 5-of-9 performance from beyond the 3-point arc.
“This was maybe Mike’s best game in his career here, in terms of efficiency,” Skyhawk head coach Jason James said. “He was very selective and passed up a couple open shots he probably should have taken. I am very proud of the way he played.”
Childs racked up 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists for UT Martin (2-5), while Taylor scored 16 points to go along with a team-high nine rebounds.
Five Tigers reached double-figures in the scoring column, led by Shaq Goodwin with 17 points to go with 12 rebounds. Adonis Thomas (15 points), Chris Crawford (14), Joe Jackson (13) and Geron Johnson (13) also paced Memphis (4-2).
“I thought we came to play, especially in the first part of the game,” James said. “For the most part, we weathered most of the storms until late in the first half. We beat them in offensive rebounding (21-to-17), we only lost on the glass by three and we can build on that. We saw in the second half how good we can be, now it’s just a matter of moving forward. We showed up tonight and got better.”
The Skyhawks led on a pair of occasions early, thanks to Taylor. The sophomore completed an old-fashioned three-point play just 38 seconds into the contest to give UT Martin a 3-2 advantage. After Memphis scored on its next possession, Childs converted a pull-up jumper at the 18:45 mark to put the Skyhawks on top 5-4.
After a Taylor trifecta from the left corner evened the score at 8-all, Memphis went on a 13-3 run to go ahead by 10 points with 13:38 left to play in the first half. UT Martin responded with four straight points to pull within six points, but the Tigers pieced together an 8-0 run over a span of 1:54 to go ahead 31-17.
Liabo sank a long trey to end the Skyhawk scoring drought, and five straight points by Childs pulled UT Martin back within single-digits at 34-25 with 4:22 to play in the half. However, the Tigers closed out the half on a 13-5 run to take a 47-30 lead into the locker room.
The Skyhawks were led by Taylors’ 11 points in the first half, while Childs (nine points) and Liabo (eight points) helped UT Martin shoot 57.1 percent (4-for-7) from 3-point range in the game’s first 20 minutes. Memphis’ Chris Crawford tallied 14 points in the first half, while Shaq Goodwin added 11 for the Tigers.
Bobby Jones accounted for the first field goal of the second half, but the Tigers soon would go on a 9-0 run over a stretch of 2:05 until Liabo scored four straight points for UT Martin. Minutes later, Memphis was responsible for another run of nine unanswered to build a 33-point advantage.
The Skyhawks kept battling, outplaying Memphis for a long stretch late in the game. UT Martin unreeled a 14-0 run over a period of 3:37, with Liabo and Childs accounting for six points apiece during the run. After the Tigers scored their first field goal in nearly five minutes, Liabo canned a long trey and Taylor followed with a bucket inside to make the score 85-61 with 2:26 remaining.
The Skyhawks return to action this Saturday when they host Kennesaw State at the Elam Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Published in The Messenger 11.30.12