Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team routs Tennessee-Martin 86-56

Friday, February 10, 2012
Southeast Missouri State’s Nino Johnson scores in front of Tennessee-Martin defender Mike Liabo during the second half Thursday at the Show Me Center. (LAURA SIMOn)

Things could not have gone much better for the Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team Thursday night.

The Redhawks broke a two-game losing streak, routing visiting Tennessee-Martin 86-56 to move into third place in the Ohio Valley Conference.

And junior guard Marland Smith was able to join Southeast's 1,000-point club in front of the home crowd.

"I was pleased with our team tonight," Southeast coach Dickey Nutt said.

Nutt was especially pleased for Smith, one of the coach's first recruits when he took over Southeast's reeling program three years ago.

The Southeast Missouri State bench erupts after Marland Smith scored his 1,000th career point against Tennessee-Martin on Thursday at the Show Me Center. (LAURA SIMOn)

"Marland deserves a lot of credit. He's a really special player," Nutt said.

Smith needed just nine points to become the first Southeast player to reach 1,000 career points since Derek Winans posted 1,505 points from 2001 through 2005.

That seemed a lock considering Smith, Southeast second-leading scorer at more than 12 points per game, had hit double figures in 13 of his last 14 contests.

Smith, however, only had two points entering the final minutes. But with the game a blowout, Nutt decided Smith deserved the chance to reach the milestone at home.

Smith scored seven points in the last 2 minutes, 17 seconds to finish with nine. His driving shot with 22 seconds left put him at 1,000 points.

Southeast Missouri State’s Michael Porter, left, Nino Johnson and Tyler Stone, right, congratulate teammate Marland Smith after he scored his 1,000th career point during the final minute of the Redhawks’ 86-56 win against Tennessee-Martin.

"It feels good," Smith said. "I wanted to get it at home."

There was finally a stoppage in play with two seconds left, at which time Nutt gave Smith a big hug and Smith retrieved the game ball from the officials. It's a souvenir and milestone he'll treasure.

"It's a great accomplishment," said Smith, who led Southeast with six assists and added five rebounds. "I want to thank my teammates for getting me the last few shots."

Smith's pursuit of 1,000 was about the only suspense for the announced Show Me Center crowd of 2,250.

Southeast, playing its next-to-last home game of the season, improved to 13-11 overall and 8-4 in OVC play.

Southeast Missouri State’s Marcus Brister drives around Tennessee-Martin defenders for a shot during the first half Thursday.

The Redhawks moved from fourth place to third in the 11-team OVC. They continue to trail second-place Tennessee State by just one-half game. The top two finishers both earn byes into the semifinals of the conference tournament.

"It's good to bounce back," said Nutt, whose squad suffered its first OVC home loss of the season Saturday against Tennessee State.

UTM (3-23, 0-13), which has lost 14 consecutive, remained the OVC's only squad without a conference win.

"These are hard games to play," Nutt said. "Any time a team comes in winless, they're a dangerous team. It was a good win."

Southeast scored the game's first five points and never let the Skyhawks catch up.

It was 42-29 at halftime, and the Redhawks went on to post their largest margin of victory this season.

"We didn't want to let them stick around too long," Smith said.

Sophomore forward Tyler Stone hit 9 of 12 field-goal attempts and scored a game-high 19 points. He added six rebounds and two blocks.

Stone's performance came after he was held under double figures in points for just the third time this season during Saturday's loss.

"Some nights that just happens. You can't think about it," Stone said. "We just came out and ran our offense. I got some touches."

Junior college transfer guard Corey Wilford continued his recent strong play with 15 points.

Senior point guard Marcus Brister bounced back from a rough outing against Tennessee State, adding 11 points and three assists against no turnovers.

"Marcus Brister and Tyler Stone are two guys that you can't keep down long," Nutt said. "They bounced back tonight."

Southeast got strong play off the bench from sophomore point guard Lucas Nutt (nine points, three assists); sophomore forward Michael Porter (six points); and freshman forward Nino Johnson (six points). They combined to miss just two shots.

"I thought we really played our roles well," coach Nutt said.

The Redhawks also welcomed the return of junior guard Nick Niemczyk, who missed the previous five games due to lingering symptoms from a concussion.

Niemczyk, back in the starting lineup, made two 3-pointers and scored six points.

Southeast shot 55.6 percent and held UTM to 35 percent.

"Defensively we were really good," coach Nutt said.

The Redhawks committed a season-low five turnovers while recording 17 assists.

"Only five turnovers -- that's great," Brister said.

Southeast is back in action 7 p.m. Saturday at SIU Edwardsville (7-14, 5-7). The Redhawks beat the Cougars 85-68 at home Jan. 12.

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