Drake men's basketball beats UT Martin, 80-54, after late schedule change

·3 min read

Sunday’s game between Drake men’s basketball and the University of Tennessee-Martin marked the end of a long 24 hours for both programs.

The Skyhawks announced late Friday evening that their Saturday game against Evansville was cancelled due to COVID protocol. Then, on Saturday, Drake announced that it had postponed its scheduled matchup against Chicago State due to health and safety protocols within the Chicago State program.

With both teams searching for a weekend opponent — and with Des Moines less than eight hours outside of Evansville — Drake filled the open slot with UT Martin.

But that wasn’t the end of the Bulldogs troubles. Prior to the matinee against the Skyhawks, Drake took to the court for warmups without Tremell Murphy, tied for second on the team in points (122) and second in rebounds (62). He is out with a non-COVID related illness.

Without Murphy and against unfamiliar competition, Drake faced a daunting challenge. The Bulldogs overcame it all with ease, taking down UT Martin 80-54 and improving to 8-4 on the season.

Tremell Murphy out, Okay Djamgouz in

Sophomore guard Okay Djamgouz saw playing time earlier in the season, when Drake faced easier opponents. But with Roman Penn injured and Murphy temporarily benched with an illness, head coach Darian DeVries was forced to play deeper off the bench.

In those early games, Djamgouz rarely disappointed and, in fact, his play was book-ended by highlight-reel moments. He made 3-pointers with ease and was quick to disrupt opponents’ paths. That style of play continued against UT Martin.

Djamgouz hadn’t played more than four minutes in a game since Drake faced South Dakota on Nov. 14, 2021. In that game, he scored eight points and recorded three rebounds and one assist.

Against UT Martin, Djamgouz scored a career-high 15 points while playing another career-high 21 minutes. His first 3-pointer of the afternoon gave the Bulldogs a 22-13 lead over the Skyhawks.

DeVries has preached the importance of Drake’s bench all season, and Djamgouz is proof of how talented this Bulldogs roster really is. Even with two of the starting five out, there are players who come in and make an instant difference.

That’s something that not only helps Drake right now, but will come in handy when most of those players leave at the end of this season.

Garrett Sturtz continues to dominate

Sturtz has become a regular in the starting lineup with Penn’s injury — and in place of Darnell Brodie, in a couple matchups. He’s certainly worked for his spot in the top five.

The senior guard was shooting 61.7% from the floor and averaging 13.8 points in his last four games, ahead of Sunday’s contest. He’s first on the team in rebounds, tied for first in steals and fourth in points.

He continued to make an impact against UT Martin. Sturtz finished Sunday’s game with seven points in 27 minutes of play. He also recorded nine rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Sturtz seems to get better with each game. Should he decide to return for an additional season next year, he will provide the leadership the Bulldogs need to continue their success, even after the likes of D.J. Wilkins, ShanQuan Hemphill, Murphy, Brodie and Penn move on.

Alyssa Hertel is a college sports recruiting reporter for the Des Moines Register. Contact Alyssa at ahertel@dmreg.com or on Twitter @AlyssaHertel.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Drake men's basketball beats UT Martin after game cancellations

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