BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Mocs didn't look like themselves.
They were missing senior center Zacchaeus Mason to a toe injury for the second straight game. And their primary half-court defense was a 2-3 zone which the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga had played for a total of 20 minutes on the season.
But there were still plenty of the 'CHAOS' elements in the Mocs' 67-52 loss at Alabama-Birmingham.
"It's a different way of getting to it," UTC coach Will Wade said. "It's the same basic principles. We still pressed for 40 minutes and did a good job with our pressure. We trapped out of the zone.
"It's the same premise, but we're getting to it a different way."
It worked in some ways including forcing 14 turnovers from UAB. But missing Mason, playing zone and being smaller than the Blazers led to a distinct advantage for them inside which played out with UAB scoring 32 points in the paint and out-rebounding UTC 46-30.
"I was proud of our guys," Wade said. "We competed for 40 minutes for the first time. We played extremely hard. Our guys competed, and that's all we can ask."
The Mocs (4-8) were led by 11 points from Eric Robertson on 4-of-8 shooting and Martynas Bareika who scored 11 points on a 3-for-14 night from the floor.
The Blazers (9-2) were led by 17 points from Jordan Swing, 15 points from Chad Frazier and 14 from Rod Rucker. Williams led all players with 11 rebounds and Fahro Alihodzic added 10.
"It feels different because we competed in this game maybe more than we have in any of our losses this season," junior forward Lance Stokes said. "Everybody came out with the mindset to compete and battle, and we did that for the whole game."
UTC led 16-13 less than nine minutes into the game which provided a little confidence that they could play with a team that knocked off No. 16 North Carolina.
The Mocs built a 25-20 lead when Greg Pryor swished a 3-pointer from the right wing. Then the Blazers committed turnovers -- stepping on the sideline, a back-court, and a charge on four of their next five possessions. But UTC couldn't score either during that stretch.
UAB went on a 9-0 run capped by a 3-pointer from Frazier. Wade called for time and UTC scored on its next possession.
But UTC did not score in the final four minutes of the first half resulting in a 15-2 run by UAB and a 35-27 deficit for UTC at the break.
"They jumped out on us, then we turned it on and got settled in," Swing said. "I felt that we played well in the last part of the first half when we went on a 15-2 run."
Wade called for time two minutes into the second half after UAB scored two easy baskets. The Blazers later extended their lead to 44-31 before UTC made it a little interesting.
UTC went on an 11-2 run to get within 48-44 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Alex Bran. UTC could not get any closer as it continued to play zone and slowed down its offensive attack against the zone that UAB played.
Yet UAB could not deliver a knock-out blow until less than four minutes remained when the Blazers turned a 10-point lead to as many as 18 in the final minute.
"We've been practicing 2-3 zone since the beginning of the year," Jones said. "With the personnel we have, I think a lot of guys like it. We played it pretty well tonight."
It definitely looked different.
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
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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