published Friday, February 18th, 2011

Mocs upset after missing upset chance in Atlanta

Something seemed wrong in Alexander Memorial Coliseum all night.

Georgia Tech fans could have taken two or three seats for themselves. The entire crowd of 5,346 in Atlanta seemed disinterested in watching the Yellow Jackets face a Southern Conference basketball team.

And the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Mocs seemed out of their element, as if it were the first game of the season, even though it was a nonconference game in February.

Actually, both teams seemed out of kilter, which means UTC could have pulled off an upset over an ACC team. But the Mocs couldn't do it.

"It was embarrassing," said UTC point guard Keegan Bell, who spent a season at Vanderbilt. "We didn't play with energy. We didn't defend well. We didn't play well. I'm speaking for the whole team.

"That was ugly basketball. That was an opportunity we should have taken advantage of."

Instead, the Mocs fell 62-53 for their fourth straight loss, all away from home.

"I don't know if it's the road or if people are tired and fatigued. I don't know what's going on," Bell continued Thursday. "We have to quit playing tired. We have to find energy and somehow pick it up."

UTC (14-14) had its best chance to upset a team from one of the six BCS conferences since toppling Tennessee in December 2005.

The Yellow Jackets (11-14) were ripe for picking. They shot 40 percent from the floor, 22.7 percent from the 3-point line, and committed 15 turnovers.

But UTC shot only 37.5 percent from the floor, 8.5 percent on 3s, and had 20 turnovers.

All of those numbers do not equal an upset.

"It was a big opportunity," said Mocs guard Ricky Taylor, who entered the game shooting 34.9 percent from the arc but went 1-of-8 from that distance Wednesday. "Last night wasn't my best shooting night, I was open a lot and I felt I hurt my team."

The Mocs were within two points of Tech with 9:54 to go and within four points after Taylor hit his only 3 with 6:32 left. They never crept closer.

"We looked dead. We played with no emotion, no energy and no enthusiasm," coach John Shulman said Thursday before a scheduled practice of more than two hours. "But if we make shots, I think we win and I'm not sure it's even close. Ricky got great looks. Omar [Wattad] got great looks. They didn't go in.

"So you have to be perfect in other areas. We weren't."

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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