GAME NOTES: Hoping to avenge a lopsided loss from four weeks ago, the Chattanooga Mocs welcome the College of Charleston Cougars to McKenzie Arena, as the two squads get together in a Southern Conference showdown.
After downing Samford on the road, 69-65, on Thursday night, the Cougars have now won five straight decisions. They sit in second place in the South Division of the SoCon.
A home win over The Citadel allowed the Mocs to snap a four-game losing skid. With their 4-6 conference record, they are at the bottom of the SoCon North Division, though only a game out of third place.
The Cougars are 17-11 all-time against the Mocs, who are 8-5 in Chattanooga. CofC leads 16-6 in regular-season league games and has won the last two, including a 86-59 rout in Charleston on Jan. 12.
Last time out, Baru Adjehi logged a double-double consisting of 15 points and 10 rebounds, and he was one of five Cougars to score in double figures as they downed the Samford Bulldogs. Anthony Thomas scored 12 points, Anthony Stitt added 11, and Willis Hall and Andrew Lawrence managed 10 each. Samford led 31-26 at the intermission after shooting 63.2 percent from the field in the first half. The Cougars missed all nine of their shots from 3-point range in the first half. They outscored the Bulldogs 43-34 in the second half, shooting 56.0 percent from the field. Charleston took the lead with 9:36 remaining on a Nori Johnson layup and never looked back. After leading by as many as 12 points with a minute to go, the Cougars were able to hold off Samford for the win.
Lawrence leads the team with 13.9 points a game. He and Stitt (10.8 ppg), the second-leading scorer, have both shot better than 39 percent from 3-point range, with both ranking among the top-15 in the conference. Baru (10.0 p pg) leads the team and is first in the SoCon in rebounding at 8.5 per contest. The Cougars are excellent at the defensive end, giving up only 61.1 ppg, second- best in the conference, while holding opponents to 40 percent shooting, also second-best in the SoCon. They're especially effective out on the perimeter, as teams are making just 28 percent of their 3-point shots, best in the league. The Cougars also lead the Southern Conference in blocks at 4.7 per game.
In their last outing, Gee McGhee finished with 22 points to lead the Mocs to an 89-76 victory over The Citadel. Chattanooga shot very well to open the game, connecting on 51.4 percent of their field goal tries to take a 44-37 lead into the break. The Citadel was hot to start as well, making 56.5 percent of its shots from the field, but committed 11 turnovers in the half. Following intermission, both teams again shot better than 50 percent from the field. After the Bulldogs drained a 3-point shot with the first basket of the half to cut the Mocs' lead to six, Chattanooga responded with six straight points to build a double-digit lead. The Bulldogs would never get closer than eight the rest of the way, as the Mocs cruised to victory. For the Mocs, Ronrico White added 19 points, Drazen Zlovaric finished with 18, Z. Mason had 14, and Martynas Bareika chipped in with a dozen.
Mason headlines the Mocs' roster with a team-high 14.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. McGhee is also averaging double figures with 10.8 ppg. Dontay Hampton (9.8 ppg) who had been limited to only five games this season with a knee injury, re-injured his knee last week in a game against Elon, ending his season and his UTC career. The Mocs struggle with accuracy, ranking at or near the bottom in both field goal percentage (.392) and 3-point field goal percentage (.297). One bright spot is on the boards, as the Mocs are the top rebounding team in the SoCon (38.0 rpg).
The Cougars are an excellent defensive team and the Mocs struggle with their shot, which is not a good combination if you are a fan of the home team. Expect CofC to continue its recent mastery of Chattanooga.
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