Friday, December 28, 2012
- by B.B. Branton
Coming out of a time out huddle in the game's final minute UTC junior Z. Mason told his teammates, "This is what we have worked for, so let's go get it done."
And get it done Tennessee at Chattanooga did with a come-from-behind 68-61 win against visiting High Point (N.C.) in the second game of tonight's 23rd annual Dr. Pepper Classic at McKenzie Arena.
The 38-point UTC second half was led by Mason (13 pts, 6 rebs) and freshman Ronrico White (15 pts, 3 rebs, 3 assists). Overall, Mason had 15 points, nine boards, while White contributed six boards, four assists and a team-high 21 points.
High Point was led by redshirt freshman John Brown with a double-double - a game-high 23 points and 16 rebounds, two blocks and one steal in 33 minutes.
Teammate Adam Weary was anything but, as he contributed 15 points, three assists and four steals.
"Z. usually doesn't say a great deal, so the guys listened and responded," said UTC coach John Shulman.
"There are a lot of happy young men in our locker room right now and they deserve to be happy," stated coach Shulman in post-game comments to the media.
"With our team being hit with injuries that has knocked out three starters (Casey Jones - broken tibia in right knee (Reinhardt game, Dec. 21) and out six weeks, Dontay Hampton and Lance Stokes), I feel good for our guys that they are playing for a championship tomorrow night."
Championship Game: UTC vs. Utah Valley Sat. Dec 29 7 p.m.
Consolation 4:30 p.m. - High Point vs. Austin Peay
It's a re-match of last year's final as Utah Valley also gained a spot in the title game, edging Austin Peay, 84-77, in the opener. UTC defeated Utah Valley,74-59, for the 2011 title.
Triple Double: Utah Valley's Nick Thompson totaled 13 points, 10 boards and 12 assists ...
The Last Time ... 20 Years Ago: Prior to tonight, UTC's Gary Robb was the last player to post a triple, double in the Dr. Pepper Classic in a 114-102 win against Southern on Dec. 29, 1992 ... Robb had 13 points, 10 rebounds and 17 assists in the opening night victory and the Mocs claimed the title on Dec.30 with an 80-67 triumph against Pepperdine ... Robb contributed 13 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists in that win.
Second Half Rally: Sparked by an 11-0 run to open the second half, the Mocs rallied down two at half (32-30) to go up nine, 41-32, at 16:43 on a Mason jumper. But the visiting Panthers did not fold oustcoring the Blue and Gold, 14-2, in the next six minutes for a 46-43 lead at 10:43.
This was the best second half start for UTC this season since a 7-0 run opened the final 20 minutes in a 68-61 loss to Troy on Nov. 19.
But the duo of Mason and White combined for 20 of the Mocs last 25 points for the win.
After the Panthers led 46-43 on a jumper by Corey Law, the teams were then tied for the fourth and final time at 52-52 on a pair of free throws by the Panthers' Brown.
Playing before an announced crowd of 2,568, the Mocs then built a six-point lead at 58-52 at 4:37 as, first, Mason hit a key jumper followed by possibly the play of the game.
With 6-9 Mason and 6-9 Drazen Zlovaric then on the bench, White nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing, was fouled by Jairus Simms and converted the charity toss.
"We need to keep Ronrico on the wings and he came up big on that shot when we needed it," Shulman stated.
The Panthers cut it to two (60-58) at 3:08 and to one (62-61) with 31 ticks remaining, but the Mocs made the final six points all on charity tosses to seal the win.
"Knowing that we were out-rebounded by 13 (45-32) and were 2 of 21 from 3-point range and still won the game says something about how we gutted it out tonight," Shulman stated.
"We had to be creative on defense as we played 1-3-1 and 2-3 zones, went man-to-man and half court traps to show as many different looks as possible."
Ringing Endorsement: "The Big South better be prepared to face Mr. Brown for the next couple of months as he is phenominal," said UTC's coach Shulman. "He plays the game the way you are suppose to play the game. He is one of the best freshman in the country."
Big Man Sat Out: High Point's 6-9 Allan Chaney (13 pts, 8 rebs on the season) missed the game due to illness, but hopes to play against Austin Peay.
Key Stats: Cold From Long Distance ... the teams were a combined 0-21 from 3-point range in the first half ... 5-41 for the game
Back and Forth: The game was tied four times the last coming at 52-52 at 6:02 remaining ... 16 lead changes, the last coming on a 3-pointer by White (his first of two) to give the Mocs a 52-50 lead at 7:22.
Good Free Throws: Mocs made 11 of 13 FTs in the final 3:44 ...
"We have shot a boat-load of free throws in practice the last few days and it paid off tonight," said Shulman. ... White was 9-11, Mason was 5-6.
Good Opening Night: The Mocs are 22-1 in opening night games in the Dr. Pepper Classic ... and 37-8 overall ... UTC has won 14 of the previous 23 titles and played in 22 championship games.
No More Airports: High Point sports information director Jon Litchfield wasn't sure he would be sitting in McKenzie Arena tonight after spending 26 hours in the Hartford, Conn. airport - only two hours from his home ... "The airline kept delaying the flight so I couldn't go home," said Litchfield who ate four meals in the airport.
High Point vs. SoCon: The Panthers are now 2-1 vs. Southern Conference schools, having opened the season with wins against UNC-Greensboro, 81-73, (Nov. 9 at home) and 86-64 at Appalachian State four nights later.
Dr. Pepper Classic Tickets: ducets available on GoMocs.com or by calling (423) 266-MOCS (6627).
Follow the Mocs: ... on Radio, Internet, Twitter: Listen to the exciting play-by-play from "Voice of the Mocs" Jim Reynolds on ESPN 105.1 the Zone in Chattanooga, or world-wide on GoMocs.com. MocsVision has the live video (PPV) and audio (Free) action online. You can follow @GoMocsMBB on twitter for news, notes, stats and links to game notes, live stats and more.
Dec. 28, 2012 - McKenzie Arena (Chattanooga, Tenn.)
CHATTANOOGA 68, HIGH POINT 61
HIGH POINT (4-7)
BROWN, John 8-15 7-11 23; WEARY, Adam 6-10 3-4 15; WALLACE, Devante 4-10 2-2
13; CUGINI, Lorenzo 2-7 0-0 4; LAW, Corey 2-6 0-0 4; EDWARDS, Derrell 1-4
0-2 2; SIMMS, Jairus 0-2 0-0 0; McINTYRE, Haiishen 0-0 0-0 0; McGAUGHY,
Dejuan 0-1 0-0 0; MIKULIC, Branimir 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 23-59 12-19 61.
WHITE, Ronrico 5-10 9-11 21; MASON, Z. 5-9 5-6 15; McGHEE, Gee 5-11 2-6 12;
BAREIKA, Martynas 2-5 2-2 6; BRAN, Alex 2-3 0-0 4; ZLOVARIC, Drazen 2-5 0-0
4; COBB, Farad 1-9 0-0 2; BRYANT, Jared 0-0 2-2 2; WATSON, Sam 1-2 0-1 2;
ROBERTSON, Eric 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-55 20-28 68.
High Point.................... 32 29 - 61
Chattanooga................... 30 38 - 68
3-point goals--High Point 3-20 (WALLACE, Devante 3-9; WEARY, Adam 0-1;
CUGINI, Lorenzo 0-3; EDWARDS, Derrell 0-2; SIMMS, Jairus 0-1; MIKULIC,
Branimir 0-4), Chattanooga 2-21 (WHITE, Ronrico 2-7; McGHEE, Gee 0-4;
BAREIKA, Martynas 0-2; BRAN, Alex 0-1; COBB, Farad 0-6; ROBERTSON, Eric
0-1). Fouled out--High Point-None, Chattanooga-WATSON, Sam.
Rebounds--High Point 45 (BROWN, John 16), Chattanooga 32 (MASON, Z. 9). Assists--High Point
16 (CUGINI, Lorenzo 5), Chattanooga 12 (WHITE, Ronrico 4). Total fouls--High
Point 25, Chattanooga 21. Technical fouls--High Point-None,
(Game 2) of the 2012 Dr. Pepper Classic
contact B.B. Branton at email@example.com