The UTM men’s basketball team picked up a much needed win over their Ohio Valley Conference rival Murray State 63-59.
The game was crucial for the Skyhawks, who coming into the matchup had lost their last four games and sat ninth in the OVC standings. A win over their rival would not only snap UTM’s losing streak, but would hopefully give the Skyhawks new hope as they look to gain ground on the rest of the conference and rise up the OVC standings.
But first, UTM had to regroup, and they did just that on day after their loss to Eastern Illinois on Thursday and 24 hours before their big matchup against Murray State. A team meeting on Friday, led by the seniors on the team, was just what the team needed to refocus.
“The biggest thing I had told the guys was let’s get back to doing what we do, let’s go out and have fun,” said senior forward Twymond Howard. “The four-game losing streak, we were just out there just lackadaisical, not cheering each other on. We got back to what we were doing. That’s probably why we won the game.”
Similar to their meetings last year, the contest was back-and-forth through a majority of the game and neither team managed to muster up enough offense to go on a sizeable run. UTM took the lead around the 15 minute mark of the second half and never relinquished it. A couple of big shots by seniors Twymond Howard, Myles Taylor, Anderson and junior Kedar Edwards helped the Skyhawks not only keep the lead, but secure the win.
Anderson led the Skyhawks in scoring with 20 points, followed by Howard, who had 19 points, and Kedar Edwards, who recorded his third double-double of the season (12 points, 11 rebounds). Murray State was led by Jeffery Moss, who had 22 points and eight rebounds.
The Skyhawks shot 51 percent overall (21-41), 27 percent from 3-point range (5-18) and 84 percent from the free-throw line (16-19). Murray State shot 40 percent from the floor (21-52), 38 percent from 3-point range, and 87 percent from the free-throw line. UTM also out rebounded the Racers 28-26.
The win was a huge victory for the UTM organization, who has historically struggled against Murray State in the last 60+ years (UTM trails in the series 5-46). It was the first win over Murray State since Feb. 2013 and the first win in the Elam Center since 2009.
The Skyhawks are still towards the bottom of the OVC, but with the win, UTM head coach Heath Schroyer hopes that this will be a turning point in his team’s season.
“We’ve got a long way to go, but I think this was a huge step forward to beat Murray State,” Schroyer said. “They’re a top-notch prgram. They’re one of the best mid-majors in the country.”
The Skyhawks will return to action on Thursday, Feb. 4 when they host Austin Peay. Tipoff between the Governors and the Skyhawks is scheduled for 6 p.m. from the Elam Center.
Photo Credit: UTM Sports Information