The UTC Mocs are not looking to make a habit of coming from behind for its victories, but for the second straight game they did just that. Tonight it came on the road in a 74-68 victory at Troy.
It was an impressive, resilient performance. The Mocs trailed by 14 early and by 12 at the half. That makes back-to-back wins when trailing by 13 or more early in a contest.
“That resiliency…the will to win,” Matt Ryan said.
“Being down at the half and finding ways to win these last two is really good. If we could play like we have in second halves for the full game, which is what every team tries to do, we’ll be in better position to sustain this success. But we’ll take the win.”
Ryan led all scorers with 21. He added four rebounds, five assists and two steals. David Jean-Baptiste added 13. Troy was paced by Zay Williams’ 18 points and eight boards.
The early hole took a long time to get back from. It was -14, 26-12, with 9:31 left in the first half. Ryan’s three 26:11 later knotted the score, 61-61, with 3:20 remaining. The two teams traded the lead until A.J. Caldwell turned the tables for good.
He drove to the basket and drew the foul completing an off-hand lay-in. The and-1 finish put the Mocs up for good.
"Coach called a great play,” he began. “He saw what they were running and my defender flew out at me knowing that I'm a shooter. So I shot faked and took a couple dribbles in the paint. Coach has been preaching shot fake and jump stop all year. I jump stopped, shot faked, and luckily it went in for the and-1."
From there it was stop, score, repeat. Ryan’s and- a minute later made it a five-point lead. Caldwell made it a seven-point game with a layup off a fantastic pass by Ryan. Another stop and two free throws from Caldwell capped a 10-0 run over 1:49 of clock time.
The Mocs started finding their touch in the second half. They shot 55.2 percent from the field (16-29) including six of 14 (42.9%) from 3 point range.
“It was big,” Caldwell added. “Rod (Johnson) and Dave (Jean-Baptiste) hit a couple of big threes. Once Dave gets going, a lot times our team follows with him. Matt got going tonight, I think he was our leading scorer. When those start to get going, guys like me get more space and can play off it.”
Coach Lamont Paris said, "It's a rough way to earn a living. I told the guys that at halftime. I said that we deserved to be down 12 after the way we played and performed. I thought we should have been in a worse spot to be honest. But in basketball, 12 points, if you're poised enough and mature enough, it's just four possessions. Obviously, that's not the way we want to do these things and get used to things like that, but we did a good job of staying the course.
The Mocs are back in the Roundhouse Friday night. They welcome South Alabama at 7 p.m., on the SoCon Digital Network and WFLI 97.7 FM and 1070 AM.
Chattanooga goes to 2-1, while Troy falls to 0-2