Chattanooga (7-9, 2-1) at College of Charleston (10-5, 1-1)
Saturday, Jan. 12, 4 p.m. ET
TD Arena (5,100) . Charleston, S.C.
Radio: ESPN 105.1 FM
Series Record: College of Charleston leads 16-11
Probable Chattanooga Starters
G-Ronrico White, 6-3, 170, SO (9.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.0 apg)
F-Z. Mason, 6-5, 238, JR (13.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.1 bpg)
C-Drazen Zlovaric, 6-9, 220, SR (9.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, .539 FG)
G-Farad Cobb, 6-0, 160, FR (6.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.0 spg)
G-Gee McGhee, 6-5, 200, FR (9.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.3 apg)
Key reserves: Dontay Hampton (6-1, 175, SR), Jared Bryant (6-7, 240, SO), Martynas Bareika (6-4, 208, SO), Sam Watson (6-7, 245, JR)
Probable College of Charleston Starters
F-Adjehi Baru, 6-9, 225, SO (9.8 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.3 bpg)
F-Anthony Thomas, 6-7, 207, JR (7.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.3 apg)
F-Willis Hall, 6-6, 235, JR (7.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg, .487 FG)
G-Andrew Lawrence, 6-1, 185, JR (13.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.7 apg)
G-Anthony Stitt, 6-1, 180, SO (11.2 ppg, 3.4 apg, 2.3 rpg)
Key reserves: Nori Johnson (6-5, 209, JR); Trent Wiedeman (6-8, 255, JR); Theo Johnson (6-6, 195, FR); Matt Sundberg (6-8, 200, SR)
The opening tip
With Thursday’s come-from-behind victory in the rearview mirror, the Mocs turn their attention to Saturday’s matchup with the College of Charleston, when they’ll have a chance to extend their SoCon road winning streak to three games.
Chattanooga, winners of two straight and five of the last six, should face an even tougher test at CofC, especially after Thursday evening. Not only will the Cougars be looking to take their 62-57 home loss to Samford out on someon, but they’ll also be well aware of senior Dontay Hampton.
Hampton, who made his season debut in Thursday’s 70-65 win over the Bulldogs, finished with 11 points, including a pair of crucial second-half 3-pointers, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. It’s safe to say the Cougars have seen the tape, so the fifth-year senior will have a hard time sneaking up on them.
College of Charleston, which had its five-game winning streak snapped with Thursday’s surprising loss to Samford, hadn’t been beaten since its shocking 65-49 setback to NAIA Anderson on Dec. 13. The Cougars, who will leave the SoCon for the Colonial Athletic Association next season, have defeated No. 24 Baylor and Boston College this season, and they’ve also captured conference victories over Elon and Furman.
Forward Adjehi Baru is leading the SoCon in rebounding (9.0 rpg), and the 6-9 sophomore will present a challenge for UTC’s frontcourt, which narrowly outrebounded The Citadel 35-32 on Thursday. Guard Andrew Lawrence is the Cougars’ leader at the offensive end (13.9 ppg), but the 6-1 junior can do more than score. He currently ranks fourth in the SoCon in assists (3.8 apg) for CofC.
UTC guard Dontay Hampton on making his first appearance of the season Thursday: “I would say it’s more than what I expected, actually. At practice I was on and off, giving breathers to Alex (Bran) and Farad (Cobb). I was expecting five minutes honestly. There was like 17 minutes (left in the first half) and they were like ‘get Farad.’ I was like ‘Woah, already?’ But once they threw me in there I was fine. … I have no idea what’s next for me. I just want to keep getting better, and if we win I’m happy.”
Head coach Doug Wojcik is 10-5 in his first season at College of Charleston. He compiled a 140-92 record in his seven seasons in charge at Tulsa but was fired after last season because of flagging attendance. He’ll be facing the Mocs for the first time in his eight-year career on Saturday. … Both squads have won five of their last six games, while the Mocs are coming off back-to-back SoCon road victories for the first time since Jan. 2011. A win would extend that streak to three, which hasn’t happened since 2004. … Saturday will be the 28th meeting between the two schools, and College of Charleston holds a 16-11 series advantage, with the Cougars claiming seven of the last 10. … Despite being limited to four points in Thursday’s win at The Citadel, freshman Gee McGhee has averaged 12 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.7 blocks in the team’s first three SoCon games. … Junior Z. Mason has averaged 16.4 points and 7.1 rebounds in his last eight games. … Free-throw shooting has been a problem for the Mocs this season, but they have shown improvement. UTC shot just 62.8 percent through its first 10 games, but it’s knocking down 71 percent from the line in its last five. The Mocs have also been much better toward the end of games. In the first 36 minutes, UTC struggles at 60.2 percent, but in the final four minutes it rises to 84.1 percent. Mason is 22 of 24 (91.7 percent) from the line in the final four minutes of games, followed by sophomore Ronrico White – 25 of 28 (89.3 percent).
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.