published Saturday, December 17th, 2011

Bell two assists short of tying UTC career record

Keegan Bell is two assists shy of tying the career record for assists at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Wes Moore, who currently shares the standard of 414 with Tim Brooks, has a vision of how Bell will break it tonight at Kentucky.

"It's going to be some kind of fastbreak with Keegan kicking it out to [Omar] Wattad, who's right in front of [Kentucky coach] John Calapari, and Wattad buries it," Moore said. "It's going to give them a little energy to start the game and settle the nerves a bit."

No matter the manner, Bell should break the record tonight. His 412 Mocs assists have come in 75 games, and he has 507 as a college player with his total as a Vanderbilt freshman included.

Moore played in 117 games for UTC from 1996 to '99. Brooks led the Mocs from 1991 to '93, playing in 63 games.

"After watching Kentucky play defense, I'm not sure we can get three buckets," UTC coach John Shulman joked early Friday. "Keegan has turned into a really good point guard for us. He's a great leader.

"He could score more but I think he knows he needs this team to do that, and I appreciate that."

The senior from Huntsville, Ala., is No. 8 in the nation with an average of 7.1 assists per game.

"You never want to worry about stats or trying to reach a mark, but I feel privileged to be among those two great players," Bell said before boarding the bus to Lexington. "Being around Wes, there's no better guy and I kind of feel bad breaking such a good guy's record.

"The fact that we're getting recognition for being unselfish, and being up there with Wes and Tim, is incredible."

Moore was the point guard on the 1996-97 Mocs squad that reached the Sweet 16. He now is attempting to turn around the Notre Dame girls' basketball team, which already is one win shy of its season total from one year ago.

Brooks led UTC to a program-record 16 SoCon wins in 1992-93, the SoCon tournament championship and a No. 12 seed in the NCAA tournament. He was working Friday when reached for his thoughts on Bell breaking his shared record but complimented Bell on his "great accomplishment" by text Friday night.

"It's an honor to be up there with a great player like Tim and to hold the record for a while," Moore said. "A great player like Keegan has come along. If a record is going to be broken, you want it to be broken by a great player like Keegan."

Moore has attended 15-20 UTC games with Bell as its point. And he's been impressed by Bell, who is averaging almost as many assists as points (8.3) per game this year.

"One of the things that I always love to see is that he's just a competitor -- loves to win and hates to lose," Moore said. "He's a positive guy with a lot of character about him. You've got to love a guy who hates to lose."

Even if that guy is taking your record.

about David Uchiyama...

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 ...

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