published Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Chattanooga Mocs rest after exceeding expectations

  • photo
    UTC senior Zaccheus Mason helped lead the Mocs to a surprising second-place finish in the Southern Conference regular season standings.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Zaccheus Mason said after the Mocs' 63-44 win over Appalachian State on Saturday night that he planned to spend some time resting.

He slept in on Sunday morning.

So did teammate Gee McGhee. Each member of the Mocs basketball team earned the right not to set their alarm before dozing off Saturday night.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga suffocated the Mountaineers 63-44 and earned the No. 2 seed in the SoCon tournament -- an accomplishment nobody could have predicted before the season, around Thanksgiving or even during Christmas break.

How late did they sleep?

"Oh, about 10:30," Mason said.

McGhee followed: "About the same."

Then those two, along with a couple other teammates and assistant coach Casey Long, watched the UTC women's team dispatch UNCG 77-56 on Sunday afternoon in a game with as little second-half drama as the game the guys played in the night before.

The difference is that the women's team pulled away before halftime whereas the men secured their 18th win of the season with stifling defense after the break.

ASU made four field goals and six free throws after halftime to tally 14 points in the final 20 minutes of Saturday's game.

"One thing that helps is that they don't shoot it great," coach Will Wade said after the game, "so we were able to sag in and do some different things."

All of UTC's different defenses resulted in the Mountaineers shooting 30.6 percent from the field for the game and 4-of-23 in the second half. The Mountaineers also shot themselves in the foot by making only 13 of 29 free throws in the game.

"We missed free throws, we missed layups, we couldn't put the ball in the basket," ASU coach Jason Capel said. "We weren't able to score the doggone basketball."

UTC (18-13, 12-4 SoCon) held ASU to a season-low 44 points. UTC's next-best defensive production came when Furman struggled to score 52 points.

The 44 that ASU scored is the fewest points that the Mountaineers (9-20, 5-11) have scored in a SoCon game since a 52-42 loss at UTC on Dec. 14, 1981.

"We knew that if we limited them to one shot then we had a good chance of guarding them," junior Ronrico White said. "We did a good job of contesting their shots then getting the rebound."

The victory vaulted UTC into the Saturday evening session of SoCon tournament with the second seed. The Mocs will face the winner of No. 7 Georgia Southern vs. No. 10 Furman at 6 p.m.

But that quarterfinal game is more than a few days from now. And they are days that will begin before 10:30 a.m.

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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