UTC Wins Dr. Pepper Classic

Z. Mason Jars Utah Valley in Final

Saturday, December 29, 2012 - by B.B. Branton

Chattanooga men's basketball coach John Shulman made a deal with Mocs junior Z. Mason before tonight’s Dr. Pepper Classic final.

“I told Z. that if you (and your teammates) bring home the first place trophy, then the team gets a day off from practice on Sunday.”

Now known as a big time deal maker, Mason – selected as the tournament most valuable player - led the Mocs to a 76-69 triumph against Utah Valley and the program’s 15th first place trophy in 23 years with career-highs in points (26) and steals (3) and a career-tying effort (13) on the boards.

Coach Shulman needed all that Mason could offer, along with Ronrico White’s 11 points, three assists and Gee McGhee’s 11 points and nine rebounds to help counter a hot-shooting night from Utah Valley’s Holton Hunsaker. The 6-0 junior guard had a career scoring night with 37 points, including 8 of 15 from 3-point land (7 in the second half), plus three assists and two steals.

“To me a win feels best when I wake up in the morning and say was I dreaming that win and know that it was real,” said Shulman. “And now I can get some sound sleep and the players feel better about themselves which is very important.”

In a game with four ties and eight lead changes and good scoring runs by both teams, Mason’s 10 points in a five minutes stretch midway through the second half was a key factor in the win.

With the Wolverines (7-9) leading 50-47 at 12:07, Mason then scored 10 of  the Mocs (5-8) next 12 points as the Blue and Gold went from down three to up four (60-56) at 6:31.

But with the victory far from secure, the Mocs needed more from Mason – 7 of 8 free throws in the final 2:15 – and his key block and then rebound of the hot-handed Hunsaker’s shot in the lane in the final seconds with the Mocs up by five, 74-69, helped put two hands on the trophy.

“I told our players that one team would leave here 2-0 and a couple would be 1-1 and one with no momentum at 0-2,” Shulman stated.  “It’s great that we leave here feeling good and having some belief and some momentum.”

Good Free Throws: “You can’t teach confidence and we stepped up big at the free throw line tonight as Gee (McGhee) was 9 of 12, including 4 of 6 in the final minute.” Shulman stated. “Gee shot lots of free throws earlier today and that work was evident tonight.”

Mocs Have Good First Half:

Led by a strong showing from the bench (14 points, 7 rebounds), the Mocs led 30-27 at half.

Alex Bran and Eric Robertson, each had one,3-pointer and led the reserve attack with five points each.

UTC opened with two quick baskets for a 4-0 lead and led 14-9 at 12:48 on a layup by Jared Bryant before the Wolverine shooting came alive and made an 11-2 run for a 20-16 advantage at 8:37 on a layup by Alfonzo Hubbard.

That’s when the Mocs’ bench took over with a 12-3 run, which included consecutive 3-pointers from Bran and Robertson, for a 28-23 lead at 4:05 before intermission

A Drazen Zlovaric put back at 2:00 gave the hosts their largest lead at 30-23 before the Wolverine’s  Hunsaker hit on back-to-back hoops to narrow the Mocs lead to three, at 30-27.

Hunsaker Preview: That was a preview of what was to come in the second half as Hunsaker ripped the cords with four, 3s, a 2-pointer and three free throws (17 points in less than eight minutes) and a 48-47 Utah Valley lead at 12:24. Mason then took over for UTC.

First Half Highlights: Drazen Zlovaric led with 8 points  … the Mocs bench outscored UV reserves, 14-4 (20-7 for the game).

Battle on the Boards: Mocs led on the boards, 24-13, and 11-3 on the offensive glass in the first 20 minutes (48-33 for the game and 21-8 on offensive boards).

Nick Thompson Held in Check: The 6-9 UV senior had a triple, double Friday night(13 pts., 10 rebs., 12 assists), but in the first half against the Mocs was limited to four points, no rebounds and no assists …on the night, he had nine points, four rebounds and two assists

All-Tournament Team & MVP
High Point- John Brown

Austin Peay- Anthony Campbell

Utah Valley- Nick Thompson, Holton Hunsaker

Chattanooga- Ronrico White

MVP- Chattanooga- Z.Mason

Last Time Three in a Row – History Repeats Itself: The Mocs have now won three in a row for the first time in a year as the 2011-12 team defeated Hiwassee (95-41, Dec. 21, 2011) followed by Dr.Pepper wins against Longwood (85-50) and Utah Valley (74-59), Dec. 29-30, 2011.

This year’s trio shows Reinhardt (108-78) on Dec. 21, followed by High Point (68-61) and Utah Valley (76-69), Dec. 28-29.

Next Up: The Mocs travel to Ga. Tech Jan.2 and then open Southern Conference play with three straight road games with Samford, The Citadel and Western Carolina (Jan. 5-10-12).

A year ago, the Mocs lost to Tennessee after winning the Dr. Pepper Classic, followed by three straight SoCon wins at home.

Three Wins to be No.2 all-time: UTC's John Shulman (137-135) needs three wins to pass Ron Shumate (139-61) and be No.2 on the Chattanooga men's basketball all-time coaching wins list ... First on the list is Mack McCarthy at 243-122 ... Shulman passed Leon Ford (129-123) last season.

CHATTANOOGA 76, UTAH VALLEY 69

UTAH VALLEY (7-9)
Hunsaker, Holton 12-22 5-5 37; Hubbard, Alfonzo 6-16 0-0 12; Thompson, Nick
3-8 2-4 9; Brown, Taylor 2-4 0-2 6; Aird, Ben 0-2 2-2 2; Johnson, Jason 0-4
2-2 2; Jones, Zach 0-1 1-2 1; Sinclair, Will 0-0 0-0 0; Enos, Keawe 0-0 0-0
0. Totals 23-57 12-17 69.


CHATTANOOGA (5-8)

MASON, Z. 8-15 9-12 26; WHITE, Ronrico 4-14 0-0 11; McGHEE, Gee 1-5 9-12 11;
BRAN, Alex 4-7 0-0 9; ZLOVARIC, Drazen 4-8 0-1 8; ROBERTSON, Eric 2-3 0-0 5;
BAREIKA, Martynas 0-4 2-2 2; BRYANT, Jared 1-1 0-1 2; WATSON, Sam 1-1 0-1 2;
COBB, Farad 0-5 0-0 0. Totals 25-63 20-29 76.
Utah Valley...................   27   42  -   69
Chattanooga...................   30   46  -   76
3-point goals--Utah Valley 11-30 (Hunsaker, Holton 8-15; Brown, Taylor 2-4;
Thompson, Nick 1-4; Johnson, Jason 0-3; Jones, Zach 0-1; Hubbard, Alfonzo
0-3), Chattanooga 6-24 (WHITE, Ronrico 3-8; BRAN, Alex 1-3; ROBERTSON, Eric
1-2; MASON, Z. 1-4; COBB, Farad 0-4; BAREIKA, Martynas 0-1; McGHEE, Gee
0-2). Fouled out--Utah Valley-Thompson, Nick, Chattanooga-None.
Rebounds--Utah Valley 33 (Aird, Ben 13), Chattanooga 48 (MASON, Z. 13).
Assists--Utah Valley 18 (Brown, Taylor 4; Aird, Ben 4), Chattanooga 12
(BRAN, Alex 3; WHITE, Ronrico 3). Total fouls--Utah Valley 23, Chattanooga
13. Technical fouls--Utah Valley-None, Chattanooga-None. A-2534
Championship Game of the 2012 Dr Pepper Classic

contact B.B. Branton at William.branton@comcast.net


UTC Men Defeat Robert Morris, 61-46

For the Chattanooga Mocs men’s basketball team, it’s good to be home. Just ask sophomore point guard Greg Pryor whose 13 points, including a trio of   3–pointers sparked a second half offensive surge as the Mocs defeated visiting Robert Morris (Pa.), 61-46 Wednesday afternoon in McKenzie Arena. The Mocs (2-3) advance to Thursday’s championship game at noon of the ... (click for more)

UTC Basketball: Men and Women at Home Today

Football is the traditional sport during Thanksgiving, but for Mocs fans it will be basketball, basketball and more basketball the next two days at McKenzie Arena. The UTC men host three other teams in the Battle 4 Atlantis Mainland tournament, while the UTC women have a much anticipated game with undefeated and No.5 Tennessee. Wednesday – UTC Men   Battle ... (click for more)

2 People Critically Injured In North Chattanooga House Fire

For the second time in three days, a house fire has resulted in tragedy with two people critically injured in North Chattanooga. At 10:13 a.m. on Wednesday, Chattanooga firefighters were dispatched to a reported house fire with entrapment at 220 Houser St. The first firefighters on the scene saw flames shooting out windows and part of the roof. Having been told that people ... (click for more)

Kiser Post-Conviction Hearing To Resume April 6

A post-conviction hearing in which Marlon Duane Kiser is seeking a new trial in the 2001 slaying of Deputy Donald Bond will resume April 6. Attorneys for Kiser, who is on Death Row, said they have additional witnesses to call. Kiser on Tuesday took the witness stand for the first time, blaming the killing on the man he was living with at the time - Mike Chattin. Chattin, who ... (click for more)

Why Ferguson Matters In Chattanooga

The recent verdict in Ferguson has thrown race relations in the spotlight again. It is far too easy to get caught up in the debate as to who was right. But the plain fact is that the community lost, the police force lost and the nation lost. So why does Ferguson matter in Chattanooga? Because a police force mainly composed of whites got into a conflict with a community mainly ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Grand Thanksgiving Feast

I’m not really sure how it all came about but a few days before Thanksgiving last year, what was usually a crowded table had dwindled down to just Mother, Aunt Martha and me. Just the idea of getting dressed up made both of them tired, which happens when you are 89 and 87, respectively, and the thought of preparing the traditional feast brought only further groans so I announced ... (click for more)