University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men vs. UNC Greensboro at Greensboro (North Carolina) Coliseum
Time: 5 p.m.
Video/radio: ESPN+/96.1 FM
Likely lineups (with heights and scoring averages in parentheses)
UTC (6-8, 1-0 SoCon)
Projected starters: F Kevin Easley (6-6, 14.5); G David Jean-Baptiste (6-1, 8.7); G Jerry Johnson (6-1, 11.5); F Jonathan Scott (6-4, 7.0); C Thomas Smallwood (7-0, 6.8).
Key reserves: G Donovann Toatley (5-9, 11.1); F Ramon Vila (6-8, 8.5).
UNCG (12-2, 1-0)
Projected starters: G Francis Alonso (6-3, 18.9); F Kyrin Galloway (6-8, 10.9); F Eric Hamilton (6-9, 8.0); G Malik Massey (6-3, 3.7); G Demetrius Troy (6-0, 7.7).
Key reserves: G Kaleb Hunter (6-4, 7.9); G Isaiah Miller (6-0, 13.6).
UTC's roster has gotten healthier and deeper just in time for the Southern Conference season to begin in earnest. Newcomers Vila and A.J. Caldwell have lengthened what was a short bench, and the return of Toatley to the rotation has provided a big spark. Since breaking a four-game losing streak at the end of November, the Mocs have shot 48.1 percent from the field. They have made 73 3-pointers in their past six games, and Easley is 17-for-32 from behind the arc in his past eight. Jean-Baptiste, since moving into the starting lineup, has 18 assists and just two turnovers. A telling stat: The Mocs are 6-1 this season when holding teams to fewer than 75 points, 0-7 when allowing more.
UNCG has tied its best start in program history and has won five consecutive games. The only two losses have been to Southeastern Conference programs LSU and Kentucky, and the Spartans are coming off a SoCon-opening 83-75 win over Samford in which Alonso earned conference player of the week honors by scoring 30 points. They will be without reigning SoCon defensive player of the year James Dickey, who is out indefinitely with a foot injury.
Alonso is the big threat, and he can do it from long range (43 3s on 41 percent shooting) or by being physical and earning trips to the foul line (67-of-70 on free throws). This sets up to be a fast-paced full-court game, something the Mocs are comfortable with.