MARTIN, Tenn. – Patrick Miller scored 29 points, but an early Skyhawks run propelled UT Martin past Tennessee State 100-81 in pivotal OVC contest.
UT Martin (6-14, 1-4) raced out to a quick 9-0 lead in the first half on 4-of-5 shooting from the field. An M.J. Rhett free-throw broke the ice at the 17:14 mark to bring Tennessee State (2-17, 1-4) within eight, 9-1.
Big Blue didn’t record its first field goal until 14:44 left in the first half with a Jamonte Graham 3-pointer.
During the Tigers shooting drought the Skyhawks extended their lead out to 15 points, 16-1. In the first 5:16 the home team knocked down 7-of-8 shots for a blistering 87.5 field goal percentage.
The Skyhawks lead was pushed to 18 on two occasions before the Tigers went on a run halfway through the half.
TSU used a 10-0 run to cut UT Martin’s lead down to just eight, 26-18, at the 10:24 mark in the first. Senior Chaed Wellian and freshman Jamonte Graham orchestrated the charge with four points apiece.
UT Martin answered with a run of its own to push the lead back out to 17, 42-25, with just 4:45 on the first half clock.
An 11-2 run by Tennessee State saw the lead dip back under 10 points at 44-36. Junior guard Jay Harris racked up five points in the stretch, with a 3-pointer and a layup, Miller also added four points.
The home team pushed its lead back to double digits just before half to take a 48-37 advantage into the locker room.
Both teams shot the basketball well in the opening frame, with UT Martin at 58.8 percent and Tennessee State at 52.0 percent from the floor.
Miller led the Tigers in scoring, finishing the stanza with 10 points on 3-of-8 shooting. Off the bench freshman Jamonte Graham also posted nine points on 4-of-6 field goal attempts, just three shy of his career high.
A 4-0 TSU burst out of the break pulled the Tigers within seven, 48-41, after layups from Miller and Rhett. UTM answered back, pushing its lead out to 14, 61-47, just two minutes later at the 14:52 mark.
UTM’s lead grew to 19 on multiple occasions and proved to be too much as the Skyhawks went on to win 100-81.
Miller, the reigning OVC player of the week finished with 29 points on 8-of-14 shooting and went 13-for-14 from the line. The Chicago native also dished out three assists and pulled down four rebounds.
Three other players joined Miller in the double-digit scoring club: Harris (15), Rhett (11), and Kennedy Eubanks (11). Rhett nearly finished with a double double, totaling eight boards on the night.
UT Martin finished with five players scoring in double figures; including 25 points from Myles Taylor in the win.
The 100 points by the Skyhawks marked the second consecutive game the Tigers allowed 100 or more points. The last time the Tigers allowed 100 plus points in back-to-back games came in the 2002-03 season. Both times the feat occurred in OVC play.
Tennessee State continues life on the road Thursday, when the team travels to Jacksonville, Ala. to take on Jacksonville State. Tip-off for that contest is slated for 7p.m. in the Yellowhammer State.