Chattanooga was scorched by Davidson’s perimeter shooting in last week’s 26-point home loss to the Wildcats, and the Mocs could be in for more of the same when unbeaten Eastern Kentucky visits McKenzie Arena on Saturday.
The Colonels have knocked down 69 3-pointers this season, including eight in Tuesday’s 63-57 victory at North Carolina Central, and their top two marksmen, guards Glenn Cosey and Mike DiNunno, are both shooting above 45 percent from beyond the arc.
“They’re dominating games, and they dominate at the end of the game,” UTC coach John Shulman said. “One’s a junior college all-american and the other is a fifth-year senior.”
Cosey, a former first-team NJCAA All-American at Columbus State Community College, is the Colonel’s leading scorer (17.0 ppg), while DiNunno (14.4 ppg) is coming off a season-high 21-point performance on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range on Tuesday.
The pair is a combined 42 of 91 (.461) from 3 this season.
Compared to last year, when UTC allowed opponents to shoot from beyond the arc almost at will – nearly 30 per game – the Mocs haven’t been quite as accommodating to outside shooting teams through six games this season. They had actually been pretty solid leading up to Saturday’s 81-55 loss to Davidson, when they gave up a season-high 13 3-pointers.
“We didn’t harass the ball like we practiced,” freshman Gee McGhee said. “Getting steals, making their lives horrible. We creeped up on them, but they’re shooters. They saw open shots and knocked them down. They did what they were supposed to do.”
The loss was definitely a setback, but other than getting back to pressuring the ball more, the Mocs are sticking to the plan.
“We’ve got to get back to pressuring the ball,” Shulman said. “We allowed Davidson to come in and get way too comfortable. We let them do anything they wanted to do. That’s not who we are. We were on our heels.”
In the previous game, a 65-51 win at Kennesaw State, UTC limited the Owls to just 3 of 24 from 3-point range.
“We didn’t just all of a sudden go from great perimeter D to horrible perimeter D,” Shulman said. “It’s just a work in progress. We’ve got to understand when they’ve got shooters-and Eastern Kentucky has a couple-you’ve got to do something about it.”
Eastern Kentucky doesn’t have quite the firepower from 3 as the Wildcats, but the Colonels’ offense is far from a two-man show. Sophomore guard Corey Walden, another junior college transfer, has hit eight from behind the arc, while 6-7 junior Jeff Johnson has seven 3s.
“They’ve got a good basketball team,” Shulman said. “One through five they don’t shoot it quite as good (as Davidson), but you’ve still got to defend. We’ve taken steps forward this week.”