Marland Smith gets his 1,000th career point in Southeast's 86-56 win over UT Martin
The Southeast Missouri State University men's basketball team bounced back from a two-game losing streak with junior guard Marland Smith scoring his 1,000th career point Thursday night.
"It feels good," Smith said. "It's a great accomplishment and I just want to thank my teammates for getting me those last few shots that I needed."
Smith had nine points and led the team with six of the team's 17 assists.
"Marland deserves a lot of credit because he is a very unselfish player," Southeast coach Dickey Nutt said. "Tonight, six assists when he could be shooting the basketball, but he's trying to do everything I ask him to do. Marland is really a special player, very proud to have him, glad to have him for another year."
The Redhawks handed the UT Martin Skyhawks their 13th Ohio Valley Conference loss of the season in an 86-56 victory.
"We knew they were going to come out and play hard," Smith said. "Every game they've been playing, they're losing by six or seven points. They're pretty close. We just didn't want to let them stick around too long and give them confidence so we tried to blow it open pretty early."
Southeast never trailed in the game and pulled to a 13-point lead with six seconds to play in the first half after an alley-oop by sophomore forward Tyler Stone. Stone finished with a game-high 19 points.
"Marcus Brister and Tyler Stone are two guys that you can't keep down long," Nutt said. "They can even tell you this, that their last game was not very good. Man, they bounced back tonight. We played well, we played big, we played solid."
The Redhawks outscored UT Martin 45-20 in the paint. Brister had 11 points and three assists, and attempted to slow down shooter Mike Liabo. Nutt said that Liabo had a good game with 16 points, but that the team made it tough for him to score.
"If I play defense hard, then Tyler, Marland, everybody else is picking up defense," Brister said. "[Liabo] took a lot of 30-footers and I feel like if you can take a 30-footer, I did my job."
Southeast had a balanced scoring night with ten different players putting up points, including junior guard Corey Wilford who finished with 15 points off of the bench. The team also finished with only five turnovers.
"I was really proud of our guys tonight," Nutt said. "We did some good things and I know that this win may just be an average win, but let me tell you, winning is precious and [UT] Martin is just as capable as anybody. But we did what we had to do. I felt like this was a must win game and that's exactly what I told them before the game.
"I usually don't like to say that to our team, about that we must win a game, but if we're going to continue to contend for a championship and play on a championship level, we have got to win the games that we're supposed to and this was one of them."
Southeast will continue OVC play at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 against SIU Edwardsville. The Redhawks are in third place in the OVC with an 8-4 conference record.
"You know, we haven't had a lot of experience with playing for something," Nutt said. "We're playing for something. We're in the middle of things. We're not just trying to play to get into the tournament. That's not our goal anymore. We feel like we have elevated our goals."