The game didn't count.
But it mattered.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team had a successful introduction to its 2015-16 season Friday, claiming a 91-63 exhibition victory over NCAA Division III neighbor Covenant College in front of 2,332 fans at McKenzie Arena.
The game won't be reflected in the records. UTC's season officially begins next Friday with a trip to Georgia, but the Mocs put forth a good showing against the overmatched Scots.
The Division I hosts limited Covenant to 33.3 percent shooting, 29 percent in the second half. The Mocs weren't a ton better, shooting only 43.7 percent, but they forced 18 turnovers - which turned into 28 points - and had 24 second-chance points on 19 offensive rebounds.
Five players scored in double figures for the Mocs, led by center Justin Tuoyo's 15 points. Tre' McLean added 13 points on 3-of-5 shooting from 3-point range, while Eric Robertson added 12 on 4-of-7 3 success. Johnathan Burroughs-Cook and Casey Jones added 10 points each, with Jones adding eight rebounds and five assists - both team highs.
"That needs to be our goal every night," first-year coach Matt McCall said. "I harp on the guys that maybe one night it's not going to be your night. Are you OK coming into the game and getting five-six assists, or five-six rebounds, and not scoring a basket, and we win? Are you OK with that?
"We should have five-six guys scoring in double figures every single night."
McCall said UTC came out expecting to see a lot of 1-3-1 zone defense from the Scots, but Covenant didn't use that defense at all. That, along with hot shooting from the visitors, led to a slow start for the Mocs. They hit their first five 3-pointers, but Covenant shot well early, too, and trailed only 19-17 after a 3-pointer by Berto Dryden.
The Scots remained close, trailing 23-20 after a free throw by Patjo Twagirayezu with 9:02 to play, but the Mocs answered with a 28-9 spurt to build a 22-point halftime lead after back-to-back 3s by McLean to end the half.
The 6-foot-5 junior guard shot 19.4 percent from 3-point range last season but hit all three of his first-half long shots Friday.
"Coach has us playing with confidence," he said. "The system is a lot of space, a lot of room for us to be basketball players. I didn't think about what if I miss my first 3 or what if I make it. It just felt good to go in, but it was only one shot and I had to move on to the next play."
The lead peaked at 31 points twice in the second half, the last being on a free throw by Duke Ethridge with 10:35 to play.
Twagirayezu led Covenant with 15 points. Dryden added 13.
"It felt good to have a game, put everything together on offense and defense and see what we need to work on," Tuoyo said. "We have to start the game off better, but Covenant's a good team. We know what we have to prepare for, and now we have to watch film and see where we're at going to Georgia."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.