It’s rare that a 27 point win isn’t large enough to show just how dominant a team was in all facets of a basketball game. Today is one of those cases. Had the first string stayed in, a Tennessee Tech – Crowley Ridge scenario was certainly possible if not probable. (Confused about the reference. See last night’s Final Word here)
But as I said a few days ago, as long as you come of out these “money games” without injury, then there’s usually no loss.
Sadly, UT Martin can’t even take that positive out of their game against Cincinnati. Here’s today’s Final Word:
UT Martin 57, No. 24 Cincinnati 80
Terence Smith, who missed all of last season, played less than a minute today before leaving the game with an apparent ankle injury. The rest of the team looked lost offensively, trailing by as much as 32 points in the first half, on their way to a blowout loss against former OVC coach Mick Cronin.
Smith was driving for a layup, when it appears he slipped on the court, turning his ankle. The extent of his injury is not know at this time. With Smith out, UTM struggled to find good shots, shooting just 20% from the field in the opening half. Even when they did get open shots, they simply couldn’t connect, illustrated by back-to-back air ball 3’s by Bobby Jones and Mike Liabo, who combined to shoot just 6-24 in the game. Myles Taylor was held to just 12 points, struggling to get clean shots off against a larger Cincinnati team. The Bearcats blocked 10 shots on the game; 7 of those blocks came in the first half.
If there is a positive to take from the game, the Skyhawks only turned the ball over 10 times and forced 19 from the Bearcats.
Eastern Michigan 54, Jacksonville State 61
Just seven Gamecocks played significant minutes, but Jacksonville State avenged last February’s Bracketbusters loss with a 7 point win over Eastern Michigan, despite poor shooting from the field. The Gamecocks hits just 38% on the night, and 16% from 3. The difference proved to be at the free throw line, where Jacksonville State held a 28-12 shots advantage.
The Eagles led 46-45 with 5:48 to go, but the Gamecocks went on a 7-0 run over the next 4 minutes, stretching the lead enough to hold on for a win. Three Gamecocks, Brian Williams, Darion Rackley, and Ronnie Boggs finished in double digits. Williams and Rackely, who led the game in scoring, combined to shoot just 9-30 from the field; a combined 3-15 from behind the arc.
Jacksonville State won the turnover battle, only turning the ball over nine times on the game, forcing 18 from the Eagles. The Gamecocks also edged the Eagles on the boards, only allowing 6 offensive rebounds by Eastern Michigan.