published Friday, January 17th, 2014

Uch on the Road: Following UTC in Boone, N.C.

BOONE, N.C. — Fresh observations and thoughts from the Mocs' 80-70 win at Appalachian State.

Opening tip

I heard the talk for a second time this season from folks watching UTC's opponent: Is Zaccheus Mason the Southern Conference player of the year?

He sure played like one again Thursday night by scoring 22 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and swatting six shots in 36 minutes.

Adding the 3-point shot to his arsenal, and coach Will Wade trusting his power-forward to takes 3s, has made Mason more incredible.

Continued improvement from the arc could easily increase the value of his first professional basketball contract.

Stats STAT!

I know Wade knew this going in and made it part of the game plan.

Appalachian State is last in the league (after the game) shooting the ball. It's made 41.2 percent of its field-goal tries. The Mountaineers were a touch worse at 40.3 percent Thursday.

UTC ran ASU off the arc and limited the Mountaineers to 3-of-14 from behind it with all three makes coming in the second half.

UTC going streaking

Thankfully, for a lot of reasons, I haven't seen anybody from UTC outside the hotel wearing less than warmups. After all, it's 28 degrees at 11:30 at night.

As for on-court streaks, UTC won its seventh consecutive game Thursday, which is the longest stretch since Dec. 15, 1998, through Jan. 14, 1999 -- also spanning seven games.

The last time UTC won eight straight, it went on to win the SoCon championship and reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

UTC won 11 straight to open the 1997 calendar year. Current UTC student-assistant coach Johnny Taylor played on that team.

I spied ...

• Freshman forward T.J. Williams played the final two minutes of the first half and held his own on defense and recorded a block.

• The Holmes Convocation Center can seat more than 8,000 for a game. ASU didn't expect half of that and covered up at least half of the seats farthest from the floor. The official attendance was 1,093.

• Boone, the Convocation Center and signs pointing to Blowing Rock have been seen for the last time (most likely) by Mocs and their fans, though. This is UTC's last scheduled trip to play ASU because the Mountaineers are moving to the Sun Belt Conference next season.

Oscar nominations

We're incorporating a little Hollywood tonight following the Oscar nominations coming out Thursday.

Here are UTC's nominees for the SoCon Oscars:

Best Picture: UTC is 5-0 in the SoCon. Western Carolina is next in the standings at 3-0.

Best Director: Wade. It has to go to a head coach.

Best Actor: Mason leads the league in rebounding and blocks and is fourth in scoring.

Best Cinematography: Ronrico White. He knows the scene of the game and the individual play as well as any point guard.

Best Supporting Actor: Casey Jones. He's graceful in the air where few can reach his altitude.

Best Foreign Film: Martynas Bareika. The Lithuanian makes 38.6 percent of his 3-pointers.

Best Animated Short: Gee McGhee. He plays with more emotion (animation) than most.

Best Documentary: Alex Bran. The second-year walk-on can tell a tale of determination.

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him 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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