Arkansas State (1-1) at Tennessee-Martin (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 16, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Elam Center (5,000) -- Martin, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: Arkansas State 1-0, Tennessee-Martin 1-0. Away Record: Arkansas State 0-1, Tennessee-Martin 0-2. Neutral Record: Arkansas State 0-0, Tennessee-Martin 0-0. Conference Record: Arkansas State 0-0, Tennessee-Martin 0-0. Series Record: Arkansas State leads 13-5
GAME NOTES: Coming off their first win of the season the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks will try to come out on top in consecutive games for the first time in two years when the Arkansas State Red Wolves invade the Elam Center.
Arkansas State split its first two games this season. First the Red Wolves dropped a 74-61 decision to Dayton on the road and followed that with a convincing 76-47 win at home over Arkansas-Monticello. Heading on the road was a dangerous proposition for the Red Wolves last season with just a pair of wins in 14 contests away from home. Arkansas State has one more road game (Central Arkansas) on this two-game trip.
The first two games of the season were not ones the Skyhawks will remember fondly. Tennessee-Martin was on the road in both and couldn't muster enough offense in losses to Arkansas-Little Rock (84-68) or Cincinnati (80-57). Tennessee-Martin did get a win in its home opener by topping NAIA's Fontbonne 84-58. The win puts the Skyhawks just three away from their season total last year. Tennessee-Martin will have a chance to further add to that win total in its next matchup against Lyon College, another NAIA program.
In terms of the all-time series, Arkansas State holds the advantage 13-5. That includes a five-game winning streak by the Red Wolves, including a 63-45 win last season.
Against Arkansas-Monticello, Arkansas State did not need to be at its best offensively. That didn't stop the Red Wolves from doing so as they sank 54.7 percent of their field goal attempts included 9-of-20 from three-point range. Arkansas Sate was also solid on defense holding the Boll Weevils to 35.2 percent shooting, while earning a 40-26 edge on the boards.
Four different players are scoring in double figures for Arkansas State thus far. Edward Townsel (14.0 ppg) and Kendrick Washington (14.0 ppg) have been the leaders so far. Both have been exceptionally efficient converting on more than 50 percent of their field goal attempts while the 6-7 Washington is also crashing the boards well (7.5 pg). Brandon Peterson (10.0 ppg, 11.5 rpg) has been very effective inside for the Red Wolves both in scoring and rebounding. He posted his first double-double of the season against Arkansas-Monticello with 12 points and 15 rebounds. Lead returning scorer Marcus Hooten has struggled early on putting in only 7.5 points per game, while shooting 33.3 percent from the field.
Tennessee-Martin had to fend of a pesky Fontbonne squad with a second-half surge. The Skyhawks led only 39-36 at the break but then shot 59.4 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes to pull out the victory. Both teams struggled with ball control with each guilty of 22 turnovers.
There is no question early on as to who the Skyhawks will be relying on this season. Myles Taylor has played at an exceptional level even while the rest of the squad struggles. The sophomore forward is leading the team both in scoring (17.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 pg) and is coming off a 17-point, 11-rebound effort against Fontbonne. Bobby Jones has been scoring well out of the backcourt (12.0 ppg) although that number was heavily boosted by his 26-point outburst against Fontbonne. Last season's leading scorer, Mike Liabo, has also scored in double figures but at a much slower rate. The 6-6 swingman has an even 10.0 points per game average as compared to a 15.3 mark over last season. Jeremy Washington (10.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg) has also been a solid performer early on.
If Taylor can keep playing at such a high level, Tennessee-Martin might be able to at least compete this season. However the Skyhawks haven't been a team for which wins come in bunches. With a balanced Arkansas State team on the other side, rather than a Division II opponent, that won't become a trend anytime soon.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas State 79, Tennessee-Martin 67
11/16 10:38:29 ET