published Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

UTC has lot on line

Wofford seeks a win tonight for pride and momentum.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga needs a win to reclaim its self-respect and remain alive for a Southern Conference North Division championship.

The two men's basketball teams will meet at 7 p.m. in McKenzie Arena with widely different motivations.

"It means a heck of a lot to us," UTC coach John Shulman said, recalling an 88-56 loss at Wofford a month ago. "We got embarrassed, dismantled, annihilated, our manhood questioned. That's what happened in Spartanburg.

"So it's a pretty important night for us."

The Mocs can inch ahead of Western Carolina with a win, but the Catamounts hold the tiebreaker should both teams finish the season with identical records. UTC needs one more win than WCU with both teams having two games left to claim a championship.

But tonight's game has no impact on Wofford's postseason. Win or lose, the Terriers' SoCon tournament seed will be determined Saturday when they play at Furman.

Win then and they get a bye. Lose, and the defending tournament champions will need to win four games in a row to claim an NCAA tournament dance partner.

"We don't talk about the tournament. We don't talk about anything but Chattanooga and playing our best basketball," said Wofford coach Mike Young, whose team almost upset Wisconsin in the NCAA tournament last March. "Our team is playing pretty well right now, as well as we've played all year."

The Terriers (16-12, 12-4) may not have played a better game all season than when they went ahead by 42 points against the Mocs (15-14, 11-5) one month ago.

It's a game UTC players remember. It's the one game of this long season that needs redemption, needs a correction.

"I feel like that game was a bad dream," Chris Early said. "We were down 15-0 before we scored and I remember going to timeouts thinking, 'Is this really happening?'

"That was a bad night for our team. They didn't get our best game. Now we can correct it."

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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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