Dan Earl has first win as UTC men’s basketball coach

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / UTC men's basketball coach Dan Earl, shown during a Nov. 2 practice, got his first win with the Mocs in his second game, Thurday night's 93-49 home victory against Oakland City.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team picked up the first win of the Dan Earl era Thursday night, overwhelming NAIA member Oakland City 93-49 at McKenzie Arena.

The Mocs (1-1) will travel to face Southeastern Conference program Ole Miss at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday. Their next home game is on Nov. 19, a Saturday afternoon contest against NCAA Division III program Covenant College from Lookout Mountain.

Three days after losing 85-78 at College of Charleston, the Mocs never trailed in their home opener, with Jake Stephens scoring on a hook shot on the game's first possession. They led by as many as 46 points in the second half.

All 11 Mocs available Thursday scored against Oakland City, with UTC playing without guard Khristion Courseault and forwards KC Hankton and Grant Ledford. Nobody played more for UTC than freshman point guard Brody Robinson, who clocked 25 minutes.

Earl, who took over at UTC in late March after coaching the past seven seasons at fellow Southern Conference program Virginia Military Institute, used the same starting five as the opener: former VMI standout Stephens, A.J. Caldwell, Demetrius Davis, Jamal Johnson and Dalvin White.

"We still have a lot of work to do," Earl said. "I've touched on this before, but our offense is a little more intricate than some other offenses, our defense as well. So you want to continue to make improvement in those things, and there was a lot to still get better at from tonight.

"You did see us kind of running our offense, we got some backdoor cuts because they were overplaying us quite a bit, so for guys to figure that out on the fly rather than us calling a play every time was good — I'd much rather them play basketball and figure it out, so I was happy with that."

Tyquez Priester's 14 points made him the only scorer in double figures for the Mighty Oaks, an Indiana team that had won its first two games.

The Mocs shot 63% from the field and had 68 points in the paint, missing just eight 2-point attempts in the game as they went 34-for-42 inside the arc. Six UTC players scored in double figures, led by Stephens' 19 points with seven rebounds. Jamaal Walker had 15 points, while Robinson finished with 11 points and four assists. Caldwell, Randy Brady and Johnny Taylor Jr. each had 10 points.

It was a step in the right direction after the opener, a game in which the Mocs committed 21 turnovers.

"Tonight was big," said Brady, a Chattanooga native. "We gave one up in Charleston, so getting this win under our belt felt good. We've got to build team chemistry and continue getting used to each other, and I feel like that's going to be big for us in the future."

Compiled by Gene Henley. Contact him at ghenley@timesfreepress.com.