UT MARTIN MEN’S BASKETBALL PLAYS HOST TO REGIONAL NAIA RIVAL BETHEL IN “CHARACTER COUNTS” CONTEST
By Ryne Rickman
University of Tennessee at Martin
Sports Information Director
MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball program takes part in the 12th installment of the “Character Counts” game against the Bethel Wildcats on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. on ESPN+.
Approximately 3,100 students from 20 different local elementary, middle and high schools will be in attendance. The “Character Counts” field trip initiative, which began at UT Martin in 2008, is taking place for the first time since 2019.
The Skyhawks (5-5) will be in action for the second time in less than 48 hours as UT Martin picked up a 75-74 overtime victory over Chicago State yesterday. Parker Stewart tossed in seven of his team-best 22 points in overtime while Chris Nix posted the first double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) by any Skyhawk in 2022-23. KJ Simon (13 points) and Desmond Williams (season-high 12 points, career-best five steals) also scored in double figures for UT Martin.
Sunday’s result was the latest in a long string of close contests for the Skyhawks. Each of UT Martin’s last six outings have been decided by seven points or less, marking the first time since Jan. 14-30, 2006 that the Skyhawks have been involved in six consecutive single-digit affairs.
UT Martin has won 14 straight decisions against Bethel, a NAIA program located 27 miles away in McKenzie, Tenn. Overall, the Skyhawks are 63-0 against non-NCAA Division I opponents since transitioning to the Division I ranks in 1992.
The Wildcats (7-5) are coming off a 70-59 setback at Cumberland on Saturday. Bethel held a 38-33 halftime advantage but were hampered by 21 turnovers and a season-low 35 percent (7-of-20) effort from the free throw line. Yassine Zlitni (11 points), Keyshawn Kennedy (11) and Connor Guthrie (10) all reached double digits in the scoring column for head coach Jeff Britt, who accumulated his 500th career victory last Thursday with a 70-60 triumph over UT Southern.
Chris Brinkley will call all the action live tomorrow on both ESPN+ (https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/eventCalendarId/401488547?gameId=401488547) and WCMT Radio 1410 AM/100.5 FM (https://radio.securenetsystems.net/cwa/index.cfm?stationCallSign=WCMTAM). Live stats for the game can be found at this link: https://stats.statbroadcast.com/statmonitr/?id=428457.