UTC Mocs get stage fright in Hollywood, play worst game of season

UTC Mocs get stage fright in Hollywood, play worst game of season

November 26th, 2013 by David Uchiyama in Sports - College

Will Wade

Photo by Maura Friedman/Times Free Press.

The players were in study hall and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Will Wade began preparations for the basketball Mocs' next game.

He didn't have the 106-65 whipping at UCLA out of his system Monday afternoon.

It still hurt.

"We got annihilated," Wade said from the Mocs' hotel in Los Angeles. "There's not much to explain. We were beaten at every position, and we didn't compete like we needed to."

The Mocs (2-3) took a step backward after progressing in each of their first four games, including an 83-81 loss two nights earlier at Nevada on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from 25 feet away. In that one, UTC competed, fought and led a superior team for most of the game.

It seemed that parts of that UTC team didn't make the flight from Reno the Los Angeles International Airport or the bus trip Sunday to Pauley Pavilion.

"Last night was the first time we gave in," Wade said over the phone. "We had guys who were scared. We played scared. We didn't attack. We got totally out of character for the first time all year.

"When you get out of character and you don't play your game, and you run into a team with superior talent, that's a recipe for disaster."

The Mocs, with their new pressing style under first-year coach Wade, allowed the Bruins to shoot 62.9 percent from the floor and score 60 points in the paint. Sixty points is enough to win some slow-paced Southern Conference games.

Wade said he noticed a different UTC team Sunday night when players had a scared look in their eyes and tried to make plays they normally wouldn't attempt.

Not that UTC had a realistic chance to win -- Vegas had the Mocs as 23-point underdogs -- but the Mocs never barked. They merely whimpered.

Wade said only Gee McGhee, Casey Jones, Greg Pryor and Zaccheus Mason truly competed against UCLA.

"I thought we had some guys who were petrified and got frustrated and didn't do what they were supposed to do," Wade said. "They did things because it's easy. That's a complete breakdown."

It resulted in UTC's largest defeat since losing by 41 at Louisville in the fall of 2010.

"We woke up too late," junior forward Martynas Bareika said on the postgame radio show. "We couldn't get back up. We got down 40. That's too much."

On Monday, the UTC coaching staff watched video of Morehead State -- UTC's opponent Thursday as part of the Las Vegas Invitational -- while the players and some supporting staff went sightseeing in the Los Angeles area during the afternoon. The famous Santa Monica Pier was one of their stops.

Meanwhile, Wade was working and watching video.

"They're really good," he said of Morehead State. "They're talented and they're a physical team that plays very quick."

They're not the Bruins. Then again, the Mocs weren't themselves on Sunday.

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