UTC Stuns Elon, 84-63

UTC Improves to 7-0 in SoCon

Thursday, January 23, 2014 - by B.B. Branton

"It's a dagger ... it didn't shake us, but it's still a dagger."

 -- Elon coach Matt Matheny describing Gee McGhee's beyond half court shot that went in at the end of the first half.

It was CHAOS at its best.

It was Chattanooga basketball at its best. 

With Z Mason (27 points) scoring inside and outside and cleaning the boards (game high 11 rebs), Ronrico White hitting timely 3s (3) for 13 points and an effective in-your face man to man defense, the Mocs defeated Elon, 84-63.

In a key Southern Conference game and playing before a loud, home crowd of 4,662, the Mocs improve to 13-10 overall and more importantly stay unbeaten in league play at 7-0.

The Last Time ... a Mocs team was 7-0 in the SoCon was 2010-11 ... the last time the Mocs were 8-0 in league play was 1984-85 as UTC opened 9-0 on the way to 14-2 in the regular season.

The taller Elon team (10-10, 3-2) came out hot going 5-7 from the field in the first four minutes, to lead 12-4 but the hot shooting cooled off and the lead went away as the Mocs got hot and led by three at 31-28 with 3:39 before half and by nine at intermission, 41-32.

"We started slow, but settled in," said UTC coach Will Wade. "It was a good win ... a complete game."

The Butler Prayer that Was Answered: A hint that this was the Mocs night, came as Gee McGhee did a Gordon Hayward (2010 NCAA finals half court prayer that was answered "No") look-alike 55-foot bank shot at the buzzer, but this one went in as the the UTC players raced to the locker room in excitement holding a nine point advantage.

"Making that shot at the end of the half is indescribable," said McGhee who had 13 points, five boards and two steals on the night.

"I have hit a half court shot before (43 feet), but never one from that far out." 

The Mocs led by eight with the clock running down, but Elon’s Sebastian Koch hit a baseline jumper with a free throw coming to cut the deficit to five.

But he missed the charity toss, UTC’s Lance Stokes gathered in the rebound, hit an open McGhee with an outlet pass who made the ESPN Highlight show-type shot from the right sideline to electrify the already supportive, home crowd.

"Sometimes a shot like Gee made can work against you, but in the first six minutes of the second half, we answered the bell with some good stops and key baskets," said Wade. 

Second Half: The Mocs didn't rest on the excitement of the McGhee shot at the start of the second half and extended the halftime lead from nine to 15 - 49-34 at 15:48 - in less than five minutes. McGhee continued his hot shooting with another 3-pointer and three free throws, while Mason had the other two.

Clutch Shooting: When Elon would make a big basket and gain some momentum, UTC would answer.

* Trailing by 11 at 17:53, Elon's Troutman blocked a Casey Jones shot then hit Koch for a running layin to cut the lead again to nine, 43-34.

But 20 seconds later, McGhee put another dagger in the heart of the Phoenix with his second of two, 3s to make it a 12-point lead and the visitors would never reduce the lead to single digits again.

* Trailing by 19 at 13:08, Elon's Tanner Samson hit a 3, but UTC's Jones answered with a jumper (2 pts.) of his own on the Mocs' next possession to lead 57-39.

* Trailing by 22 (61-39) at 11:11, Kevin Blake had a resounding dunk over White followed by a made free throw to make it 61-42, but Mason squelched any notion of a run at the Mocs as he scored eight straight points on a 3-pointer, two jumpers and a free throw for a 15-point advantage at 69-44 at 9:21.

While the 6-6 Mason was more than the taller Elon front line (six guys, 6-7 or taller who played) could handle, it was a total team effort.

McGhee led in steals (2) and free throws (7-8), Casey Jones in blocks (3) and assists (5), Ronrico White in 3-pointers (3-5).

Yet, Mason was the difference.

He out-hustled taller foes for loose balls (four offensive rebounds), made layups, hit fade away jumpers and 3-point shots.

The game was won on both ends of the floor by the Mocs – rebounds (35-25), shooting (47.1% to 42.0%), blocks (6-3) and steals (4-2).

Elon was led by Luke Eddy and Koch (11 points each) and Koch with five boards. Center Lucas Troutman had 10 points, four rebounds and three blocks.

"Troutman is a very good player and we were able to make it tough on him to catch the ball as we had a body on him at all times," said coach Wade.

The 6-10 senior came into the game averaging 16.2 ppg, and 6.3 rbpg.

Mason's Birthday Present: Wearing bright green shoes for the first time, Mason recorded his 17th career double-double (points/rebounds) and passes assistant coach Johnny Taylor on the UTC career list and is now six behind school record holder Keith Nelson with 23 (1991-92) .. "I bought them over the weekend... they are a birthday present to myself." ... Mason turned 23 on Tuesday.

What's Next - Saturday at Home: UTC hosts UNC-Greensboro (10-11, 3-3), an 88-78 loser to Samford tonight.

Saturday's games -

4 p.m. - UTC women vs. Samford  ESPN3

7 p.m. -  UTC men vs. UNC-Greensboro

Coach Will Wade on UNCG --

"They are a good team with two solid post players (Kyle Cain, Kayel Locke) and a big time shooter (Nicholas Paulos, 10.6 ppg) ... We will have to work on keeping the ball out of the post."

Kyle Cain is eighth in the league in scoring (15.9 ppg) and is second in the league in rebounding (9.0) behind UTC's Mason ...  Kayel Locke (12.5 ppg)

Chattanooga 84, Elon 63

Elon   32 - 31 -- 63

UTC  41 - 43 -- 84

Attendance: 4,662

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

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