MARTIN, Tenn. – It was the Smith twins show for the Lipscomb men’s basketball team on Monday night as junior forwards Malcolm and Martin Smith combined to score 50 of the Bisons 95 points en route to a 95-84 nonconference win over homestanding UT-Martin at the Elam Center.
“Considering the circumstances we played under tonight, this was a great, great win for us,” said Lipscomb head coach Casey Alexander. “
When Malcolm Smith and starting point guard J.C. Hampton each headed to the bench with two fouls each in the first three minutes of play, Martin Smith stepped up and raised his game to another level. The Clarksville native drained back-to-back threes on consecutive possessions for the Purple and Gold and those threes would fall all night as he ended the night 6-of-8 from deep as part of a season-high, 27-point night.
“I’ve got to give Martin a ton of credit for carrying us on his back at a time when we desperately needed him,” said Alexander. “He really deserves a lot of credit for a great 40-minute effort.”
Twin brother Malcolm would see only five total minutes of action in the opening frame but would log 17 in the final stanza as he scored 17 points. Among those 17 were 11 from the charity stripe in 13 tries that lifted him to a 23-point night for the night.
Hampton added 12 points to round out the scorers in double figures for Lipscomb.
Making a surprise return from a suspension, UT-Martin’s Mike Liabo scored 27 points in 22 minutes of action off the bench to lead all Skyhawks.
With a combined 50 fouls called, free throws proved to be a big factor in the contest with Lipscomb hitting a season best 77 percent (28-of-36) from the line. The Skyhawks proved sharp from the charity stripe as well hitting 75 percent (21-of-28).
“We’ve played six games now and free throws have been really important in four out of the six,” said Alexander. “I give our guys a lot of credit for stepping up there and making them. We missed two in a row late but Martin got the critical offensive rebound which in my opinion was the play of the game.”
The Bisons narrowly won the battle of the boards 35-34 and also held a narrow 11-9 advantage in turnovers. Lipscomb also won the shooting battle firing a season best 54.7 percent on 29-of-53 shooting compared to 41.9 percent shooting for UT-Martin.
Alexander was especially pleased with the way the Bisons handled the ball against the Skyhawks.
“We talked a lot about taking care of the ball this week,” said Alexander. “We did a great job tonight of executing the game plan and sharing the ball. I went right down the line tonight and contributed everybody for contributing to the win because it was a team effort.”
Lipscomb continues road action on Saturday in the nation’s capital in the first-ever meeting with Georgetown. The 11 a.m. game is set to air nationally on FSN. 94.9 Game 2 will carry the game in the Nashville area.