published Friday, February 10th, 2012

UTC Mocs stop loss streak

The Mocs' Drazen Zlorvaric, No. 20, keeps the ball away from Elon's Jack Isenbarger, No. 20, and Lucas Troutman, No. 31, during Thursday's game. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga played against Elon at McKenzie Arena on Thursday night.
The Mocs' Drazen Zlorvaric, No. 20, keeps the ball away from Elon's Jack Isenbarger, No. 20, and Lucas Troutman, No. 31, during Thursday's game. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga played against Elon at McKenzie Arena on Thursday night.
Photo by Jake Daniels /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga ended a historic seven-game losing streak Thursday night with an 83-75 Southern Conference basketball win over Elon.

The Mocs upset the North Division leaders with 2,606 watching in McKenzie Arena.

"This is just starting again," UTC coach John Shulman said. "There wasn't pandemonium in our locker room. We were happy and we were pleased."

Shulman allowed himself a moment to smile as he walked off the floor while players celebrated at center court.

"We talked about being a little mad," Shulman said. "Sometime or another you have to get mad. You have to stand up. Tonight we stood up."

It started on the first play when the Mocs' Drazen Zlovaric dunked on Lucas Troutman.

"They played with an edge and it started on the first isolation play," Elon coach Matt Matheny said. "He finished it. It's a great play."

Zlovaric finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. Ricky Taylor led UTC with 24 points and Omar Wattad added 22, and they combined for 27 in the second half. But players and coaches from both teams proclaimed Jahmal Burroughs as the player of the game.

The senior returned from a pulled hamstring suffered on Jan. 26, and the Shulman-proclaimed "emotional leader" for UTC scored 11 points, grabbed nine rebounds and provided the Mocs some energy and punch they had been missing.

"Burroughs was a huge factor tonight," Matheny said. "They've gone through some tough games defensively. You get Burroughs back in that lineup and they're a different team."

The Mocs were a different team Thursday based solely on the scoreboard -- winners instead of losers for the first time since Jan. 12, when they beat Wofford. Thursday, they avenged an 88-87 loss at Elon.

The Mocs (10-16, 4-9) now have guests in the basement of the North Division: Western Carolina fell at College of Charleston on Thursday.

"When you're losing, you can feel sorry for yourself or you can get up and go to work," Wattad said. "I think the seniors stepped it up. I think everybody stepped it up."

The Mocs made their biggest strides after trailing 41-38 at halftime. They limited Elon (13-11, 8-5) to 34 points on 38.9 percent shooting in the second half.

A 9-0 run gave the Mocs a 65-59 lead with eight minutes to go. Taylor closed the game with 15 points in the final 10 minutes, which helped the Mocs maintain at least a two-point lead through the final five minutes.

"I thought we played mad and angry in the second half," Shulman said. "That game could have gone either way. But [almost] all of those losses could have gone the other way, too."

Each of the five Elon starters scored at least 10 points. Sebastian Koch led the Phoenix with 20 points, Jack Isenbarger had 14 and Troutman added 13.

"It's really nice seeing our kids smile and have a good feeling for a change," Shulman said. "It's been exhausting. It has been rough."

The Mocs pulled out the victory with defensive Band-Aids and Burroughs. Shulman repeatedly switched defenses and how they played ball-screens. The variety caused enough confusion to take the Phoenix out of their rhythm.

"I thought they mixed it up very well," Matheny said. "I thought we did rush offensively a little bit. That's one of the messages our team will hear tomorrow -- trust in our system."

Elon will head to Samford for a game Saturday. The Mocs will face UNC Greensboro in McKenzie Arena.

"Hopefully we can build on this and keep having success," Shulman said. "The shame of this is that we could have been having a lot of success."

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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