UTC vs. Indiana
› When: 7:10 p.m. EDT Thursday
› Where: Wells Fargo Arena; Des Moines, Iowa
› Records: UTC 29-5; Indiana 25-7
› TV/Radio: CBS/96.1 FM
› Series history: Indiana leads, 2-0
› Last game: Indiana won 78-53 on Nov. 23, 2011
The chances for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to advance in the NCAA men's basketball tournament could come down to the Mocs' ability to cut the head off the snake Thursday night.
A 6-foot-tall snake wearing a white and red No. 11 Indiana jersey.
Point guard Yogi Ferrell is the engine that makes the Hoosiers go. The first-team All-Big Ten guard and second-team All-American has averaged 17 points and 5.5 assists per game for the 25-7 Hoosiers, who are seeded fifth in the East Regional, and Indiana typically benefits from his ability to make plays both for himself and his teammates.
Indiana coach Tom Crean surrounds Ferrell with shooters on the perimeter, and they have the ability to make opponents pay if they focus too much on him.
"Yogi is one of the best point guards in the country. There's no question about it," UTC coach Matt McCall said. "He would have been a first-round (NBA) draft pick if he came out last year, but it's not just him. Troy Williams is a problem on the wing. Thomas Bryant is one of the best freshmen in the country. They put five guys on the floor that can shoot the 3, and that's something we got better at — defending the 3 — and that's going to be the biggest key in the game.
"We can't get caught up and consumed with Yogi: That's where they really, really hurt you. We need to make sure we do an unbelievable job on the 3-point line and we can't get consumed with guys. We have to know where guys are at at all times."
The Mocs will have to combat the Hoosiers with their length on the perimeter. Wings Eric Robertson and Tre' McLean are 6-4 and 6-5 and have long arms and active hands capable of creating havoc. Point guard Greg Pryor will see time on Ferrell, as will guards Dee Oldham and Johnathan Burroughs-Cook off the bench.
McCall repeatedly has said he feels just as good about his point guard as Crean probably feels about Ferrell.
"Coach gives me the keys to the ship," Pryor said. "It makes me feel great knowing that my head coach believes in me a lot."
On Monday the Mocs didn't know much about the Hoosiers, other than the primary ball-handler and distributor. By now that's certainly changed.
"We just know that we have to play hard," Chuck Ester said. "We'll have to out-tough them, outwork them."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.