The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team has been here before.
During a preseason scrimmage against Auburn, Chuck Ester injured a knee on the first play of the game, and the Mocs didn't respond well.
When Casey Jones — another senior — went down with a knee injury early against Jacksonville State on Wednesday, UTC was more prepared.
The Mocs led 11-2 prior to Jones' injury. After that the Gamecocks cut the gap to three points right away and trimmed it to four points twice early in the half, but the Mocs assumed control and earned a 73-57 win at McKenzie Arena.
UTC (9-3) starts Southern Conference play with a two-game road trip next weekend, beginning with a game against Western Carolina on Dec. 31.
Jones, who scored eight points in the first three minutes of Wednesday's game, landed awkwardly on his left ankle after making a short jump shot and had to be helped off the floor. It was the ankle he tweaked earlier this season, not the one he dislocated last season, when he missed the final 27 games.
"When Chuck went down, we all kind of lost our composure," UTC coach Matt McCall remembered. "Going through that experience, I knew I had to keep the team connected, so I kind of gave (senior) Tre' (McLean) a look, and he looked over at me and said, 'We're OK.'
"That experience kind of helped today."
Greg Pryor, Johnathan Burroughs-Cook and McLean each had 14 points to lead the Mocs. McLean had a game-high 10 rebounds, while Pryor added four assists and Justin Tuoyo scored 10 points (all in the second half) while adding six blocks.
Nat Dixon had a season-high nine points, getting his number called after Jones' injury.
The Mocs shut down the prolific 3-point shooters for the Gamecocks (7-7), who finished 4-for-11 for the game but made three of their final four attempts. Erik Durham, who was sixth in the country in 3-point percentage, missed both of his 3-point attempts and was 3-for-6 from the field as he finished with six points.
"We knew they shot the 3 pretty well. It's kept them in some games, so we knew an emphasis would be stopping them," McLean said. "With Durham, we knew if he got going it would be a long night for us, so we had to put an urgency and team effort on stopping them by helping the helper and closing out fast (on defense)."
The Mocs led 37-26 at halftime, but they blew the game open with a 10-0 run to start the second half. Their lead maxed out at 62-33 after a Pryor 3-pointer with 10:02 to play and remained in the mid-20s until the Gamecocks ended the game on a 13-2 run.
Malcolm Drumwright scored 14 points to lead the Gamecocks, who have played 13 of their 14 games on the road.
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.