Keegan Bell’s cell phone kept buzzing and beeping at the exact wrong times Monday — in between chomps at 75-cent taco night at Amigo’s Mexican Restaurant.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga point guard received frequent updates of Tennessee’s basketball exhibition game against Division II member Indianapolis.
But the Vanderbilt transfer didn’t choke on his tortilla chips when the final score appeared on his Blackberry. It read Greyhounds 79, Vols 64.
“I didn’t pay too much attention Monday, because during my freshman year we had to hit a last-second shot to beat Tusculum,” Bell said. “It was an exhibition game. Coach [Kevin] Stallings ripped us after that. Then we started the season 17-0. It didn’t affect our season. It ended up motivating us.”
The Volunteers, the 23rd-ranked team in the country — and UTC’s opening opponent Friday night in Knoxville — just lost to a Division II team when Bell signed the bill. That’s not supposed to happen.
In exhibition games, such as UT’s Monday contest, one team is supposed to earn a check and the team signing the check is supposed to win handily.
The result of Monday’s game in Thompson-Boling Arena could impact Friday’s game in one of two ways. Either the Mocs are stepping into a hornet’s nest of angry players who are bigger, stronger and faster, or they’re facing a disrupted team that lost to a squad even the Mocs should have beat.
“Anyone can win on any night,” Bell said. “That’s why I love playing this sport.”
Bell and senior Troy Cage had a three-word response when asked they took from the Vols’ loss. They simultaneously said, “Nothing at all.”
“They’re men just like we are, and that game meant nothing,” Cage said. “I saw the first half and they were sloppy like we were against [Tennessee] Wesleyan [in UTC’s exhibition win]. I wasn’t overly excited because it was an exhibition.
“They’re still 0-0 like we are.”
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/UchSports.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...