published Monday, January 20th, 2014

Chattanooga Mocs cruising on the road while setting records

  • photo
    UTC's Zaccheus Mason takes shot Jan. 9, 2014, at McKenzie Arena in this file photo.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Instead muddling through a transition season with first-year head coach Will Wade, the Mocs are alone in first of the Southern Conference standings and routinely etching this season into the record book.

A 71-57 win at Wofford on Saturday continued the Mocs' trend of setting records as well as surprising SoCon basketball observers.

"We were picked seventh," senior forward Zaccheus Mason said of preseason predictions. "It gives credit to our hard work and how we prepared for this season."

By winning on a road swing to Furman then The Citadel and again this weekend with wins at Appalachian State and at Wofford, the Mocs have swept two SoCon road trips in a season for the first time since the 1993-94 season. That's the same season sophomore guard Gee McGhee was born.

The last time UTC won four straight SoCon road games came in the 2004-05 season which ended with UTC dancing in the NCAA tournament.

Half of UTC's wins on their current eight game winning streak -- its longest since the 1996-97 season which ended in the Sweet 16 -- have come away from McKenzie Arena.

"You can't just show up on the road and expect to win," Wade said as Wofford fans trudged out of Benjamin Johnson Arena. "That's developed in the offseason. That's developed through our SEAL training and stuff.

"You have to have a toughness to impose your will on the road. I thought we imposed our will tonight."

Winning on the road consistently is new to UTC. It won four road games all of last year, zero the season before and was 12-39 on the road, including a few money games, over the previous four seasons.

And the Mocs started this season 0-6 on road. But they're 4-0 since.

"It's nothing we've done individually," junior guard Ronrico White said. "It's the whole organization. The staff knows shat it takes to win on the road. We're listening to them every second. They have the formula. We're going to listen and get it done."

The formula on Saturday included driving the ball, shooting open 3s getting fouled and slowing down Wofford's half-court offense with a full-court press.

"Sticking with the plan, sticking with what we preach, sticking with the process, and the guys honored the scouting report well tonight," Wade said. "We covered things up and our guys were tough. Its on our players. They're the ones who put in the hard work. We give them the plan but they're the ones who make the rubber meet the road."

Who knows what the future looks like down the road of this season or even into future seasons.

Each of the five times UTC has opened the SoCon season 6-0 it won a regular season or division championship -- '82, '85, '91, '08 and '11.

With 10 SoCon games left, including Thursday against preseason favorite Elon, adding 2013 to that historical list is still in question.

"There's still a lot of stuff we can improve and a lot of stuff we can tweak," said Wade after watching Southern Miss play Louisiana Tech on Sunday and before monitoring study-hall. "We can't throw our arms out of socket patting ourselves on the back."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or at 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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