UNC Greensboro (7-18, 5-9) at Chattanooga (11-16, 6-8)
Thursday, February. 21, 7 p.m. ET
McKenzie Arena (10,928) • Chattanooga, Tenn.
Radio: ESPN 105.1 FM
Series Record: Chattanooga leads, 18-13
Probable UNCG Starters
G-Trevis Simpson, 6-4, 185, SR (19.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.3 apg)
F-David Williams, 6-6, 205, JR (5.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.8 spg)
F-Kayel Locke, 6-5, 240, FR (10.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
G-Drew Parker, 6-1, 178, JR (3.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.5 apg)
G-Derrell Armstrong, 6-1, 205, SR (14.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.0 apg)
Key reserves: Kelvin McNeil (6-8, 230, SR); Nick Paulos (6-7, 185, SO); Jordan Potts (5-11, 170, FR).
Probable Chattanooga Starters
F-Lance Stokes, 6-6, 217, SO (3.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg, .429 FG%)
F-Z. Mason, 6-5, 238, JR (14.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 0.8 bpg)
C-Drazen Zlovaric, 6-9, 220, SR (8.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg, .520 FG%)
G-Ronrico White, 6-3, 170, SO (9.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.0 apg)
G-Gee McGhee, 6-5, 200, FR (11.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.4 apg)
Key reserves: Casey Jones (6-5, 185, FR); Jared Bryant (6-7, 240, SO); Martynas Bareika (6-4, 208, SO), Sam Watson (6-7, 245, JR).
The opening tip
A win at Wofford last Saturday would have done wonders for the team’s confidence level. Instead, the Mocs suffered a humiliating 78-58 setback to a middle-of-the-road Southern Conference South squad. Now they’ll look to regroup against a struggling UNCG squad, which visits McKenzie Arena of Thursday evening.
The Spartans, ranked last in the SoCon North, have only won once since defeating Chattanooga on Jan. 27—a 77-69 victory behind senior Trevis Simpson’s career-high 41 points.
The Mocs’ eight-point loss at the Greensboro Coliseum came just three days after UTC senior Dontay Hampton re-injured his surgically repaired ACL at Elon. Even without the team’s emotional leader, though, the Mocs made a game out of it, despite the red-hot shooting of the SoCon’s leading scorer, Simpson (19.4 ppg).
Simpson has cooled off a bit in recent weeks, but he’s still the Spartan’s No. 1 scoring threat.
He scored 22 in his team’s 83-70 loss at Appalachian State, then dropped 29 in the team’s only win this month—an 88-65 victory at Furman. The 6-4 senior hasn’t eclipsed the 20-point mark since, and his team has suffered three straight losses.
The way things have gone this season, though, if you’re looking to break out of a scoring slump, the best thing to do is play Chattanooga, so Simpson is surely licking his chops
The SoCon’s third-leading scorer, Wofford’s Karl Cochran (15.7 ppg), scored just eight in his team’s 40-33 loss at Samford last Thursday, but bounced back with a career-high 30 points against the Mocs.
Senior guard Derrell Armstrong (14.9 ppg), along with freshman Kayel Locke (10.5 ppg), are both averaging in double-figures for the UNCG as well.
UTC head coach John Shulman on facing Simpson: “You have to be urgent, but still, as urgent as you are getting out there on him, you’re not going to prevent him from getting shots up. He’s going to get his shots. You’re trying to make them low-percentage shots. He’s just one of those special players.”
The “Voice of the Mocs,” Jim Reynolds, will be calling his 1,000th Chattanooga basketball game on Thursday evening, 33 seasons working his first game at UTC—an 85-53 win over Maryville College on Nov. 29, 1980. The Mocs have captured more than 600 victories since Reynolds came on board. ... The two SoCon division winners receive first-round byes for the Southern Conference Championship in Asheville, N.C., on March 8-11. After that, the schools with the top two conference records—regardless of division—will receive automatic trips to the quarterfinals. Despite UTC defeating Samford twice this season, the Bulldogs (8-6) are currently holding onto the final first-round bye—two games ahead of the Mocs. ... Over the last five games for UTC, freshman Gee McGhee has been the team’s leading scorer (17.0 ppg). He’s knocked down over 50 percent (30 of 57) from the field during that stretch, while hitting 8 of 19 (42%) from beyond the arc. McGhee has reached double-figures in each of the last eight games, including a career-high 22 points in the Mocs’ win over The Citadel on Feb. 7. ... Chattanooga leads the SoCon in rebounds per game (38.3) as well as offensive-rebound percentage (.359), and the Mocs are No. 2 in rebounding margin (+4.8) and defensive-rebound percentage (.729). ... UNCG ranks second in the SoCon in scoring (71.3 ppg), and the Spartans are shooting 41.5 percent from the field and 32.5 percent from 3-point range. ... Head coach Wes Miller, last season’s Southern Conference Coach of the Year award recipient,is 18-29 in his second season at UNC Greensboro. He’s 3-0 against Chattanooga, and 1-0 at McKenzie Arena.
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.