Jones, Tuoyo lead Chattanooga Mocs over Furman Paladins, 72-60

Jones, Tuoyo lead Chattanooga Mocs over Furman Paladins, 72-60

January 4th, 2015 by Gene Henley in Sports - College

UTC's Chuck Ester (0) fights a couple of Paladins's for a lose ball. The Furman Paladins visited the Chattanooga Mocs at McKenzie Area Saturday night, January 3, 2015.

Photo by Robin Rudd /Times Free Press.

If it wasn't Casey Jones making plays Saturday evening for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team, it was Justin Tuoyo.

The duo combined for 34 points and 16 rebounds, and the Mocs improved to 2-0 in the Southern Conference heading into Monday's showdown with preseason favorite Wofford with a 72-60 win over Furman in front of 2,738 fans at McKenzie Arena.

Jones had his third double-double of the season, with 20 points and 11 rebounds, and added four assists. Tuoyo was all over the court, and the 6-foot-10 sophomore center finished with 14 points, five rebounds, four blocks and three steals.

Greg Pryor and Ronrico White added 12 points each as the Mocs won for the sixth time in seven games.

"We like to put an emphasis on guarding the ball," Jones said. "When most things go our way, we feel we're a pretty good team. If we stick to what the coaches have planned for us and focus on defense, the offense will come later."

The offense came early Saturday, as the Mocs led 10-1 two minutes into the game. The Paladins responded from their slow start, and led by guard Stephen Croone they rallied to take a brief lead at 21-20 midway through the first half, but the Mocs quickly built a seven-point lead before a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Furman's Daniel Fowler trimmed the difference to 36-32.

The Mocs quickly built a 10-point advantage to start the second half, but Furman (3-9, 1-1) cut that to 44-38 after two free throws by Croone with 14:10 to play. After those free throws, the Mocs ran a lob play, and Eric Robertson lofted a perfect pass that Jones slammed down. It seemed to ignite the home team, which stretched the lead to double digits and kept it there the rest of the way.

The Paladins were limited to 17 shots in the second half, as they had 11 turnovers in the final 20 minutes that led to 17 UTC points.

"It's a positive to see that we guarded better," UTC coach Will Wade said. "They only had one offensive rebound in the second half, so we did a nice job with our defensive rebounding. We fouled a little too much, but a lot of that was at the end when they were putting their head down and driving to the basket.

"We did a nice job guarding their stuff; our guys really figured out the game plan and did a nice job with it."

UTC junior forward Duke Ethridge dressed but did not play Saturday due to an illness.

Croone led the Paladins with 18 points, with most of his work coming from the free-throw line (11-for-13). Kendrec Ferrara had 13 points and six rebounds for a Furman team that plays four freshmen in its top seven.

"Chattanooga competed really, really well. As young as we are, we've been fighting hard, but I thought there were periods of this game where they played harder than we did," Furman coach Niko Medved said. "Their athleticism really wore us down, especially late. We turned it over too many times, but we didn't have the ability to shoot a lot of 3s. I thought they deserved to win.

"We played well in stretches -- we won't be the last team to come in the Roundhouse and lose -- but I like our team. We're young, we're improving, and I'm looking forward to when they come up to Timmons (Arena) in a month."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.


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