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Watching this year’s Skyhawks team should feel familar to UT Martin fans.

There are flashes of brilliance, followed almost immediately by youthful mistakes.

It’s last year all over again.

UT Martin couldn’t find a way to stop a team that was shooting just 35% on the season heading into tonight’s game, and fall at home to Lamar 79-69. 

Anthony Davis and Devon Lamb for Lamar combined to go 16 of 21 from the field, leading a Cardinal team that shot over 60% for the game.

Sure the picture was blurry because I took it on my
cell phone, but I bet this is how some plays looked
to the Skyhawks defense

“We’ve got to get more consistent defensively,” coach Jason Jones said after the game. “They did a heck of job running their motion, continuing to move, and a lot of those times we were in the wrong position.”

The Skyhawks had problems getting the offense going in the first half, shooting just 32% from the floor. UT Martin tried to pound the ball inside early, but found it tough to score in the paint. But don’t expect Jones to tell his team to stop pushing the ball down low.

One problem that has plagued Tennessee Martin much of the season, turnovers, weren’t a major factor for much of the night. Despite a few early turnovers, the Skyhawks calmed down, committing only 4 turnovers in the first 14 minutes of the half.

Then the wheels seemed to begin to come off.

In the last 6 minutes of the half, the Skyhawks committed 5 turnovers and 7 fouls, as Lamar pushed the lead to 5 at the half, and had all the momentum heading into the locker room.

While the Skyhawks heated up in the 2nd half, so did the Cardinals.

Lamar hit their first 8 shots of the half, and finished 15-21 from the field in the second half. Even when the Skyhawks could make shots, it was clear they didn’t have an answer on the defensive end to make a run to get back into the game.

But one thing we might have seen tonight was the resurgence of Mike Liabo.

After starting the first three games, the Skyhawks guard found himself coming off the bench for the second straight contest.

Tonight he delivered on the offensive end, leading the Skyhawks with 20 points (off of 8-19 shooting, though) in 26 minutes of play, and quite possible more importantly, committed just 2 turnovers.

But for James, it’s not Liabo’s scoring that has put him on the bench, it’s his defense.

“We want Mike to guard better. We want him to play better defensively,” James said. “Anybody can score, we want to be able to stop people from scoring.”

In all, the Skyhawks committed just 14 turnovers for the game, a much better number for a team that’s struggled holding onto the basketball at times this season.

UT Martin falls to 1-4 on the year, and things don’t get any easier on the horizon. The next two games for the Skyhawks have them traveling on the road to Mississippi State and UAB.

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OVC Ball
Final Word (11/13): Jacksonville State stands alone…in basketball too.

2017-18 Basketball Standings

OVC Overall
Jacksonville State 0-0 2-0
Tennessee Tech 0-0 1-1
Murray State 0-0 1-1
Southeast Missouri* 0-0 1-1
Belmont 0-0 1-1
Eastern Kentucky 0-0 1-1
Tennessee State 0-0 1-1
Eastern Illinois 0-0 0-1
SIUE 0-0 0-1
Austin Peay 0-0 0-2
Morehead State 0-0 0-2
UT Martin 0-0 0-2

*Ineligible for postseason (APR)