In the First Word, I said it was a win for UT Martin if they weren’t routed on the road at Belmont.
Ian Clark scores a career-high 32 points, and the Bruins hold the Skyhawks to 30% shooting in 90-53 win. Just to make matters worse, Belmont forces 25 turnovers, while committing just 9 in the win.
Things started well for UT Martin, as they took a 2-0 lead with 18:43 remaining in the first half. Then Belmont scored 11 unanswered over the next four and a half minutes, and things just got worse from there. A Mike Liabo three pulled UT Martin back within five with 9:06 to go in the half, but then the Skyhawks would be outscored 15-4 over the next six minutes. By halftime, Belmont had more than doubled up UT Martin, leading by 24.
It did not get any better in the second half. At really any point.
Clark’s 32 points marks his second straight 30-point game. Those 32 points came off 12-15 shooting from the field; all three misses were from behind the arc. Freshman Craig Bradshaw was the only other Bruin in double figures, finishing with 11 points. Despite having a big lead, the Bruins defense prevented UT Martin from taking three-point shots, as the Skyhawks hit just 3-14 on the night. By comparison, Belmont hit 11-27.
UT Martin was led by 15 from Myles Taylor and 14 from Justin Childs, although both struggled from the floor. Two bright points in very dismal loss: UT Martin won the battle of the boards, and went 18-20 from the free throw line as a team.
Belmont is…well they’re really, really good right now. They appear to be the class of the conference, and are locked in right now. Clark is a lock for OVC player of the week, and might even be the leader for player of the year. In his past two games, the senior is 24-29 from field goal range. That’s 82%, and amazing.
This game doesn’t say anything new about UT Martin. They’re not a top tier team right now, although they may be farther back from that than we originally thought. It’s nice to see Childs have a good game, but the Skyhawks need consistency. (Which may be the word of the year in the OVC)
Belmont schedule ramps up this week. They’ll host Eastern Kentucky (14-3, 4-0) on Thursday and Tennessee State (11-7, 5-0) on Saturday. Just one game for UT Martin this week, as they host Morehead State (8-10, 2-2)