SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Walk-on Alex Bran played five minutes Thursday in a blow-out victory for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team.
He played again Saturday, but the Mocs were on the opposite end of a lopsided Southern Conference game.
They lost 78-58 in Benjamin Johnson Arena at Wofford, which had its campus dusted with a pretty afternoon snow.
The Mocs had no defensive answer for Karl Cochran and the Terriers, who scored a total of 33 points in a seven-point loss at Samford. Wofford surpassed the 33-point mark with more than three minutes left in the first half Saturday and continued scoring from the 3-point line against UTC's trapping defenses.
"We had the same shots on Thursday, but we were a train wreck," Wofford coach Mike Young said. "We responded tonight.
"To go into halftime up 18 points, I was the most surprised guy in the building."
Cochran had a career-high 30 points on 11-of-23 shooting from the floor, including 6-of-12 on 3s, in 33 minutes of action. Jarell Byrd added 13 points for the Terriers in place of Spencer Collins, who injured an ankle seven minutes into the game.
"Early on we lost Spencer and I had to pick up the slack," Cochran said. "Most of the shots were open shots."
Zaccheus Mason led UTC with 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-3 on 3s. Gee McGhee added 13 points. The other Mocs combined to shoot 4-of-29 from the floor.
"Our comfort zone was taken away because they put five guys in the paint," UTC coach John Shulman said. "Because we're used to playing inside-out, our inside wasn't there because they backed three feet off the ball."
The Mocs (11-16, 6-8) and Terriers both played five games in 10 days. The Mocs looked worse for the wear while the Terriers had the comfort of playing at home in a gym that was a third full with 1,008 people in attendance. Only six were rooting for UTC.
"We looked mentally waxed," Shulman said. "We were tired and cranky and mentally waxed from the opening tip -- discombobulated."
Shulman's squad entered with momentum after going 3-1 on a homestand with the one loss coming by three points to Charleston and headed on the road after whipping Furman 83-49. That momentum did not get on the team bus to Spartanburg.
"It definitely seemed like it was a drag on offense and defense," Mason said. "I think a lot of it was fatigue. We have to fight through it."
The Terriers breezed through UTC's trapping defense with point guard Indiana Faithfull running the show. The Mocs forced three turnovers in the first half and nine for the game. They could have had more such as the time Casey Jones had the ball in front of him and touched it with both hands before it fell away from him.
"We could not turn them over in the full court at all," Shulman said. "They took care of that easy."
Wofford's first turnover came more than eight minutes into the game, and Cochran started scoring early. He had 20 points before the break on a variety of shots, including two deep 3-pointers from the left wing over McGhee.
Taylor Wagener closed the half with back-to-back 3s and the Terriers finished the half on an 8-0 run for a lead of 45-27.
Mason propelled UTC to within 50-41 with 1:451 to go by scoring 12 of UTC's first 14 points of the second half.
"I wanted to come out and attack in the second half," he said. "We were down 18 and I wanted to give us a chance to cut that deficit down. We were able to, but we couldn't hold them off."
Wofford pushed its lead back to 15 points six minutes later and maintained a lead of at least 13 and as many as 24 points for the rest of the half.
"We just got our tail ends busted," Shulman said. "One game is not going to deter me from thinking that we're getting better."
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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