Tennessee Temple came to McKenzie Arena Monday night hoping to compete with a cross-town D-I program and UTC needed a solid showing at home before facing D-I power Kansas on Thursday.
Too much D-I talent on the home side and cold shooting (40%) from the floor by the Crusaders led to a Mocs, 88-53 win.
Baskets by Moc veterans Drazen Zlovaric and Z Mason (basket and free throw) gave UTC a 5-0 lead and the hosts never looked back.
Good UTC defensive pressure and hit and miss shooting by the visiting Crusaders (2-2) from the opening tip put Temple in a quick hole – 9-0 – in the first three minutes.
Temple missed its first nine shots from the field and committed five turnovers before Jonathan Slade's layin at 14:37 gave the visitors their first field goal to trail 12-3.
The Mocs expanded the lead to 16 (23-7) on a lay in by Zlovaric at 9:34, only to see the Crusaders make a short offensive run.
Travaris Clark and Weedlens Beauvil hit consecutive 3s from the wings to make it 23-13 UTC at 8:40.
The Mocs then went on an 8-0 run for a 31-13 advantage at 6:51 on a pair of free throws by Zlovaric.
UTC held its largest first half lead – 19 – twice in the final 90 seconds, the second one coming on a Mason basket with two seconds before intermission for a 46-27 lead.
The largest second half lead was 39 at the 2:08 mark.
Top Scorers: Mason led the Mocs with 16 points (7 of 12 from the field) and Zlovaric added 11, while Mack Hampton led Temple with 12 points and Weedlens Beauvil totaled 11. Brainerd High School alum Corey Sanders did not score, but had three steals, two assists and one rebound.
"I was very nervous about the game," said UTC coach John Shulman. "Temple is huge (five players, 6-8 or taller) and well coached.
"I give (head coach) Brac Brady lots of credit. He has a lot of talent on that team."
UTC not only won on the scoreboard, but also on the glass.
"Temple has been dominating people on the boards and to outrebound them by 21 (49-48) is a good night's work," Shulman stated.
Zlovaric led all players with eight boards, while Mack Hampton, Joe Quinn and 7-2 John Riek all had five for Temple.
Neither team shot the ball well from the field in the first half - UTC (34.9%) and Tenn. Temple (37.5%) - but the Mocs shot 51.9% in the second half and Temple was at 42.9%.
"We also did a good job of getting to the free thow line," said Shulman who is now 5-4 in season openers and 133-127 overall in his ninth season coaching the Blue and Gold.
UTC's Ronrico White led all players at the free throw line hitting 7 of 8, while the team was 28 of 41 (68.3%). Temple was 11 of 20 (55.0%).
With five Mocs freshman getting their first taste of college ball, all players in the home whites saw playing time.
UTC true freshman Farad Cobb set a freshman single game record with six steals and also had three assists, eight points and two rebounds.
"I was anxious, yet excited to play tonight," said Cobb. "I was not sure what to expect in my first college game, but I played hard and was comfortable on the floor towards the end."
Freshman teammate Gee McGhee had six points, three rebounds and two steals.
The Mocs also led in second chance points (32-9), had 17 less turnovers (35-18).
Quick Second Half Start: As they did to start the game, Zlovaric and Mason got the Mocs going in the second half on a layin by Zlovaric and a short baseline jumper by Mason for a 13-point lead at 50-27 at 19:16.
When Martynas Bareika made a layin at 2:08 to go, the Mocs had their largest lead (39) at 84-45.
Next For the Mocs: UTC travels to Kansas on Thursday, then hosts three games in three days next week ... Southeast Missouir (Nov. 18, 3 p.m.), Troy (Nov. 19, 7 p.m.) and Louisiana Tech (Nov. 20, 7 p.m.) as part of the CBE Classic.
"To play the number seven team in the nation in Kansas is a great opportunity for our players," Shulman stated.
"I am not looking at wins and losses, but am focused on getting better from game to game."
contact B.B. Branton at email@example.com