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Omar Wattad chomped on two tongue depressors as he walked into the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball team meeting Tuesday.

"I got popped in the jaw and it came loose on the first play of the game," Wattad said.

Coach John Shulman may think about popping his junior guard in the jaw before tonight's game against Jackson State.

"I will punch him if that's legal," Shulman joked. "You just let me know, Omar."

After the shot to the jaw, Wattad played his best offensive game of the season against one of the two best teams the Mocs will play all season.

Wattad led UTC with 24 points in a 106-65 loss at Louisville in the brand-new KFC Yum! Center.

He shot 6-of-10 from the field and 5-of-8 from the 3-point line against the Cardinals in the second game of the Global Sports Shootout, which includes tonight's game against the Tigers (0-5).

Wattad, who sat out last season after transferring from Georgetown, leads the Mocs with an average of 12.4 points per game. He's shooting 32.2 percent from the floor and 27 percent from the arc. And Monday night helped those numbers.

"I hit shots, and that was the difference from other games," Wattad said. "I don't feel like they were different shots. I haven't been worried about my offense at all. For not one moment have I worried about that, and it came around last night."

The Mocs played like a tired bunch of basketball players against the Cardinals. They made uncharacteristic mistakes and looked slow and sluggish, especially after the game got out of hand in the second half.

After all, it was their fourth game in eight days, and they'll be playing their fifth game in 10 days tonight in the first-ever matchup between UTC and JSU.

"It's been an exhausting trip and travel has been the main thing, because I think we're in shape," junior guard Ricky Taylor said. "We turned it over a lot and they got fastbreak points, and all of them messed us up. It got out of hand real quick. We were close, then down 14 at half."

The Mocs will take time to celebrate on Thanksgiving after a morning practice, then practice again Friday before flying to Miami.

But the Tigers are up first.

"They're picked to win the SWAC. They've played a brutal schedule, and anybody that would have played their schedule would be 0-5," Shulman said. "They're an NCAA tournament team. Don't get deceived by the record."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.

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