Josh Odem and Ridge McKeither were suspended before the game.

Their participation wouldn't have mattered in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's 78-54 loss to Samford on Wednesday before a lethargic crowd of only 3,041 in McKenzie Arena.

The Bulldogs took advantage of what UTC coach John Shulman described as a "broken team," executed it's back-door offense and bullied a team unwilling to fight from the opening tip.

"We were funky in the lockerroom," Shulman said. "I was trying to get them up in there."

Shulman suspended Odem and McKeither for a violation of team rules, and did not elaborate on the specific rule they broke. He said it is doubtful they will play on Saturday against Furman.

McKeither, a junior forward, was averaging 9.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. He had 13 points and 18 rebounds on Saturday at The Citadel. Odem, a freshman guard, was averaging eight points and shooting 36.8 percent from the arc.

"I'm angry at them," Shulman said. "You don't think real good when you're mad. I need to get through my anger so I can look at (the punishment). They were selfish acts and not thinking of the team.

"Hopefully they learn and grow. If they do, then it's well worth it."

Their actions are another blow to a team that has lost 47 man-games due to injury or suspension and is on its third losing streak of at least three games this season. UTC dropped to 13-13 overall and 5-8 in the Southern Conference and is three games out in the race for a SoCon Tournament first-round bye with five games to play.

"I'm disappointed in their decision," Shulman said. "As long as I am in charge, then I've got to make them men and accountable for their actions. It hurts out team, but I'm sorry."

The most recent blow came at the final buzzer when the scoreboard showed the Mocs losing 78-54 to a team that averaged 56 points and sat in last place of the Southern Conference North Division.

"We started the game with no confidence, they shot it great and were difficult to guard," Shulman said. "We didn't have it. We had no energy. We had no confidence. We looked like a team that had enough distractions for a long time."

Samford set a season-high in points, shooting percentage (61 percent) and 3-pointers made (15).

"I thought we got off to a good start," Samford coach Jimmy Tillette said. "Even the 18 turnovers weren't from guys being selfish and we had 21 assists on 25 baskets. The whole theme was to be simple and let's not do anything tricky.

"We knew that UTC had not seen us play or had a chance to defend us."

Samford guard Josh Davis set a career high with 30 points including 7-of-13 shooting from the 3-point line. Jeffrey Merritt added 13 points for the Bulldogs (10-15, 4-9 SoCon).

Ty Patterson led UTC with 15 points. Keegan Bell had 11 and Ricky Taylor scored 10 points. The Mocs took 20 more shots than Samford but shot only 36.4 percent from the floor and were out-rebounded 39-25.

"It feels like we got down tonight, we put our heads down instead of fighting for the full 40 minutes," Taylor said. "It wasn't our night. We couldn't make shots to give us the energy. We needed that edge and energy and we didn't get that tonight."

The Mocs were sluggish from the start and settling for jump shots instead of driving or dropping the ball inside. So they found themselves down 11 points less than five minutes in and down 14 points with 6:31 to go before halftime. UTC closed the half on an 11-3 run and trailed 38-32 at the break.

"We definitely gave them some stuff, we had assignments that we missed and we didn't do a good job," Bell said. "Our mental ability in this game definitely was not there.

"They out played us by far tonight."

A 14-0 run by Samford early in the second half gave the Bulldogs a 54-38 lead following a fast-break dunk by Davis. The Mocs pulled as close as 58-49 before a 9-0 run sealed the victory for Samford.

"I'm disappointed but what are you going to do?" Shulman said. "I'm going to stand here and take it like a man and move on like a man."