Gee McGhee on the rise for UTC Mocs basketball team

Gee McGhee on the rise for UTC Mocs basketball team

February 19th, 2014 by David Uchiyama in Sports - College

UTC guard Gee McGhee (12) shoots a layup over Western Carolina forward Tawaski King (32) at UTC's McKenzie Arena.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

Gee McGhee's legs were so sore after his basketball team's 83-73 win last Friday that he expressed his pain on Twitter.

After spending most of Monday morning on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus, he took the bus from his apartment to McKenzie Arena instead of walking.

"It's been a busy day," he said. "I was tired."

He's also conserving some of his energy for the Mocs' final four games of the Southern Conference season. UTC (16-11, 10-2) will host Georgia Southern (11-6, 8-4) on Thursday at 7.

McGhee plays in a fashion that earned UTC assistant coach Casey Long the unofficial nickname of "O.C." -- short for out-of-control -- during his years as a Mocs player.

"I can respect that," McGhee said. "We all get out of control a bit playing ball."

He can also relate to Long.

McGhee is at his best when he pushes that line of being nearly out of control driving the lane, diving on the floor, jumping over opponents for rebounds and breaking on-court speed limits. Sometimes he gets caught and forces a shot or commits a turnover.

"Every mistake I make, I'm going 100 percent," said McGhee, a sophomore from Baton Rouge, La.

He grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds and scored 16 points while playing 37 minutes in the Mocs' most recent victory. During a span of 90 seconds early in the second half he grabbed four defensive rebounds -- and four out of five available. He earned his postgame pain.

"He's very good when he's in a full-court setting," UTC coach Will Wade said. "What happened on Friday is that he was able to push it in transition."

Wade has given McGhee the freedom to grab-and-go. He doesn't need to find an outlet man after getting a rebound. If point guards Greg Pryor and Ronrico White aren't one easy pass ahead, he can just go -- all the way to the paint or until somebody stops him before then.

"Coach told me, 'You can start the break,'" McGhee said. "I can see the floor; I can go finish; I can make a play."

McGhee is averaging 10.3 points per game while shooting 15-of-61 from the 3-point line. He has had eight games of 15 or more points, including the last two. He also has had 13 games of fewer than 10 points. He averaged 4.5 in a recent four-game team lull.

"Gee doesn't play as well against set defenses," Wade said. "People lay off of him and he doesn't have the driving lanes that he does in the open court."

McGhee isn't so technical about his off games.

"Some nights, it's not my night," McGhee said. "But I'm not a numbers nut. If I have a great game, I'm thanking God. I'm trying to help my team win. We're back to winning and it feels good right now. We have to continue it on Thursday."

The line between being in control and out of control is a fine one for McGhee. He's not scared to drive when UTC has to play in the half-court. But all too often this season he's gone in the lane looking for contact instead of using his strength to finish the shot or ensure he gets fouled.

That's been an area of improvement in the last 10 days. McGhee was 10-of-18 from inside the 3-point line in UTC's last two games. He had 21 points at Samford before the 16 against Western Carolina.

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