Belk demons bedevil Mocs

Belk demons bedevil Mocs

February 7th, 2011 by David Uchiyama in Sports

The UTC Mocs battle for a rebound during second-half action against the Davidson Wildcats on Saturday in Davidson, N.C. Davidson defeated UT-Chattanooga 73-59.

DAVIDSON, N.C. -- Forward Jahmal Burroughs had never played center. Guard Troy Cage had never played power-forward.

Chris Early had never been ejected.

The 2010-11 Mocs haven't lost the rebounding margin by 12 since the second game of the year. And the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has not made fewer than eight assists in the last two years.

All of that was until Saturday when UTC lost 73-59 at Davidson.

All of that was new. Losing at in Belk Arena wasn't.

The Mocs haven't won at Davidson since a 74-63 win on Jan. 18 of 1997 just before the Mocs' historic run to the Sweet 16. UTC is 6-14 overall against the Wildcats since that win.

"To win here, you have to be mentally tough and physically tough," UTC coach John Shulman said. "I think we got beat in the mental and physical toughness areas and we couldn't make a shot."

Burroughs and Cage played out of position. Early became frustrated with Davidson's physical style and retaliated with a flagrant foul that resulted in an ejection.

Davidson enticed UTC to play Davidson basketball -- not the Stephen Curry era of Davidson basketball -- but the traditional style of coach Bob McKillop.

The Mocs took the bait. And lost.

"We have to be mentally and physically tough," UTC coach John Shulman said. "Mental toughness means you have to box-out with seven guys climbing your back with no call. You have to be tough enough to do that and not get a call.

"We let it get in our heads and let it get to us."

McKillop and Shulman survived the first half which ended in a 28-all tie. They did so based on different difficulties.

Davidson played poor offense. It shot 29 percent and had 10 turnovers. The Mocs played the half with center Jeremy Saffore and reserve power forward Jahmal Burroughs saddled with two fouls, and DeAntre Jefferson getting two calls in two minutes forcing Burroughs to play center and get three fouls before the break.

"We can't come on the road and play like this," point guard Keegan Bell said after the loss. "We're better than that. Hopefully, it's another lesson. But it's not really the time of year to be learning lessons."

In the second half, Davidson led 39-38 then went on a 20-3 run that gave them complete control of the game especially after Early's ejection with 10:05 to play.

"We came out in the second half and played very well." said McKillop, whose team has now won four straight. "We had handled the adversity of fatigue, we handled the adversity of physical play.

"We held our ground. In fact, we stepped forward today. WE stayed in the center ring tonight."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6484.


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