published Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Zaccheus Mason boosts UTC Mocs' hopes

  • photo
    Zaccheus Mason of UTC shoots over Aerris Smith of Wofford at McKenzie Arena in January.
    Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Zaccheus Mason earned a little rest Sunday and a lot of rest Monday for his efforts Saturday night.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga power forward played his second game after missing eight due to a bone bruise in his right knee.

The Mocs missed Mason.

They were 1-7 without him in the lineup, including the one-point loss to Davidson when he could no longer play.

And they are 4-4 with Mason in the rotation since restarting the heart of SoCon play in early January.

"It felt good to get back playing and getting a win," Mason said. "I'm still trying to get back in my rhythm. My goal for the week is to prepare and definitely get some rest and get back to basics."

He set career highs with 17 points and 13 rebounds against Wofford -- the Mocs' final win in a three-game streak. Then he reset one of those highs with 18 points and 11 rebounds at Elon.

"He's a difference-maker for us," coach John Shulman said. "It's hard to lose a difference-maker for five weeks during the season."

Mason returned last Thursday in a 65-55 loss at Furman and finished with six rebounds and four points in 16 minutes. Then Saturday, in an 86-78 win over Samford, he grabbed 12 rebounds and scored seven points.

"On Thursday, he looked like he did in November, and Saturday night, especially in the second half, he looked like he did in January," Shulman said. "He looked like a man rebounding that ball."

He even swatted away a second-half shot, but the officials called goaltending.

"On these old knees, if I'm going to get up, it ain't going to be that high," Mason joked.

Shulman would prefer to have the most recent version of Mason on the floor Friday night when the Mocs face Georgia Southern in the first round of the Southern Conference tournament.

He did not have either Mason or Jahmal Burroughs when the Eagles beat UTC 75-72 on a last-second 3-pointer from Jelani Hewitt on Jan. 28. The return of Mason and Jahmal Burroughs -- who missed three games -- will benefit UTC on the defensive end as well.

Freshman Lance Stokes started against GSU at power forward and drew the defensive assignment on Eric Ferguson -- the SoCon's sixth highest scorer -- who scored 15 points that night.

"We had Lance, Omar [Wattad] and Drew [Baker] guarding Ferguson," Shulman said. "It's going to be nice to put some athleticism on him."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP

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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