Chattanooga (8-12, 3-4) at UNC Greensboro (5-13, 3-4)
Sunday, Jan. 27, 2 p.m. ET
Greensboro Coliseum (23,500) . Greensboro, N.C.
Radio: ESPN 105.1 FM
Series Record: Chattanooga leads 18-12
Probable Chattanooga Starters
F-Martynas Bareika, 6-4, 208, SO (2.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg)
F-Z. Mason, 6-5, 238, JR (14.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.0 bpg, .481 FG%)
C-Drazen Zlovaric, 6-9, 220, SR (8.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, .486 FG%)
G-Ronrico White, 6-3, 170, SO (9.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.9 apg)
G-Gee McGhee, 6-5, 200, FR (10.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.4 spg)
Key reserves: Lance Stokes (6-6, 217, SO); Jared Bryant (6-7, 240, SO); Eric Robertson (6-4, 191, FR).
Probable UNC Greensboro Starters
G-Trevis Simpson, 6-4, 185, JR (18.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, .443 FG%)
F-David Williams, 6-6, 205, JR (5.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.6 spg)
F-Kayel Locke, 6-5, 240, FR (9.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
G-Drew Parker, 6-1, 178, JR (4.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.1 apg)
G-Derrell Armstrong, 6-1, 205, SR (16.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, .375 3P%)
Key reserves: Nicholas Paulos (6-7, 185, SO); Kelvin McNeil (6-8, 230, SR); Jordan Potts (5-11, 170, FR).
The opening tip
The Mocs are coming off consecutive losses for the first time in over a month, and a loss to the Spartans on Sunday would drop them into last place in the Southern Conference North Division.
They’ll be without senior point guard Dontay Hampton, who’ll undergo an MRI on Monday after re-injuring his surgically repaired knee on Thursday. Junior forward Sam Watson hurt his back in the 85-61 defeat, and junior Z. Mason had ice on his knee at Friday’s practice at Greensboro College. Both are expected to play Sunday at UNCG, though.
Mason collected his third double-double of the season with Thursday’s 14-point, 13-rebound performance, freshman Gee McGhee led the Mocs with 15 points while freshman Eric Robertson added a career-high 11.
Mason is averaging 15.7 points and 7.7 rebounds in conference play. The reigning SoCon Player of the Week is 11th in the league in scoring (14.2 ppg) and fifth in rebounding (7.5 rpg).
The Spartans, who’ve won two of their last three, are coming off a surprising 66-64 win over SoCon North Division leading Samford on Thursday evening, and junior guard Trevis Simpson scored a season-high 30 points in the 66-64 victory.
Simpson, the SoCon’s leading scorer (18.6 ppg), has six 20-point performances on the season, and he’s buried a team-best 32 3-pointers of the year. Teammate Derrell Armstrong is also one of the league’s top scorers (16.3 ppg), and the 6-1 senior knocked down a career-high five treys in last season’s 81-72 win over the Mocs.
Chattanooga head coach John Shulman on battling through the team’s injuries problems: “We’re the walking wounded right now, but you know what, it is what it is. Western Carolina gets beat (Thursday) night, Samford gets beat (Thursday) night. We’ve just got to hang in there and keep playing.”
The Mocs hold a six-game series advantage over Spartans, but they were swept by UNCG last season. Chattanooga has won two of its last three at the Greensboro Coliseum, but the team hasn’t won there in over two years. … The Mocs are giving up an average of 87.2 points in their last four games, and they’ve allowed opponents to shoot nearly 50 percent from the field (49.6 percent) and from 3-point range (46.2 percent). … The Spartans lead the Southern Conference in scoring (72.6 ppg), but they also happen to have the league’s worst scoring defense (75.3 ppg). UNCG has improved on the defensive end in its last three. The Spartans are holding opponents to just over 60 points per contest during their 2-1 stretch.
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.