published Thursday, February 21st, 2013

UNCG's Simpson a shooting star

Trevis Simpson must love seeing the blue and gold.

He scored 28 points against the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in their final matchup last year, and set a career-high with 41 points against the Mocs on Jan., 26.

He had a dream night.

It left the Mocs with nightmares. The junior buried jumpers from all over the court including one from the 'G' that spans 'UNCG' on center court of the Greensboro Coliseum.

"I'm pretty sure that won't happen again," UTC freshman guard Gee McGhee said. "That was a one-night thing. It won't happen again."

Simpson will get a chance to prove McGhee wrong.

The Southern Conference's leading scorer will lead the Spartans (7-18, 5-9 SoCon) into McKenzie Arena for a 7 p.m., game tonight against the Mocs (11-16, 6-8).

UTC coach John Shulman expects Simpson to get his fair share of shots. With the Mocs playing more full-court defense than their were seven games ago, Simpson may have some shots wide open if the Spartans can beat the press.

"He's going to get better looks now than he did against us at Greensboro and the guy can flat score the ball," Shulman said. "He's one of those guys who can get his shot off when he wants to no matter what defense you're in -- a box-and-one, a triangle-and-two. If he catches the ball he can get a shot off because he's that athletic."

The Mocs played a 1-2-2 trapping defense late in the game at UNCG to help them pull within two points after being down by 14 in an eventual 77-69 loss.

This time, the Mocs will likely be playing that defense, or variations of it, for the full 40 minutes. That may play right into the hands of UNCG coach Wes Miller.

"We've done a nice job of getting out in transition during stretches," Miller said. "When we're hitting the open guy and making the extra pass, we can be pretty good on offense."

Simpson, who averages 19.4 points per game, has scored at least 10 points in all but two games this year -- at Davidson and against Division II Lees-McRae when the Spartans did not need his scoring.

The Spartans were the popular preseason pick to win the North Division. They can't do it. In fact, they're in last place.

"We look back and we've counted that there are 10 games that have come down to a couple possessions that we've lost," Miller said. "It's been a combination of a lot of things. In a lot of games, kids have made big plays. We haven't' stepped up and made those plays.

"There's a lot of basketball yet to be played, and we have to figure out a way to turn the corner."

Around that corner is the SoCon tournament in Asheville, N.C. After playing the Spartans, UTC will have one more home game then finish the season at Western Carolina then Appalachian State.

The tournament is on the horizon.

"This season has flew by, and I cam remember packing for Kansas," UTC guard Ronrico White said. "We want to do our best to win two at home then get two on the road.

"We need momentum going into the tournament and make some noise there."

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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