Chattanooga (3-5) at Georgia (2-4)
Monday, Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m. ET
Stegeman Coliseum (10,523) • Athens, Ga.
Radio: ESPN 105.1 FM
Series Record: Georgia leads 26-5
Probable Chattanooga starters
G - Greg Pryor, 6-1, 195, FR (11.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.1 spg)
G - Gee McGhee, 6-5, 205, SO (14.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.1 apg)
G - Casey Jones, 6-5, 200, SO (10.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg, .548 FG%)
F - Z. Mason, 6-6, 235, SR (17.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.8 bpg)
F - Lance Stokes, 6-7, 225, JR (4.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.4 spg)
Key reserves: Eric Robertson (6-4, 200, SO); Martynas Bareika (6-5, 215, JR); Alex Bran (6-1, 180, SO); T.J. Williams (6-8, 240, FR)
Probable Georgia starters
G - Charles Mann, 6-5, 210, SO (16.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.0 apg)
G - Kenny Gaines, 6-3, 195, SO (13.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, .463 FG%)
F - Cameron Forte, 6-7, 220, SO (6.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.0 apg)
F - Donte’ Williams, 6-9, 225, SR (6.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.2 bpg)
F - Marcus Thornton, 6-8, 235, JR (6.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, .421 FG%)
Key reserves: Nemanja Djurisic (6-8, 230, JR); Brandon Morris (6-7, 215, SO); Juwan Parker (6-4, 200, FR)
The opening tip
Chattanooga captured its first Division I win of the Will Wade era on Friday evening, churning out an 87-76 victory over IUPUI to wrap up play at the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational.
Senior Z. Mason led the way with a season-high 27 points and nine rebounds, while four other Mocs—Casey Jones (14), Gee McGhee (14), Lance Stokes (13) and Greg Pryor (13)—also scored in double figures.
The comfortable, double-digit win over the Jaguars helped UTC salvage at least some momentum from its four-game road swing out west. The Mocs will be looking to double down tonight, though, when they travel Stegeman Coliseum to take on Georgia.
The loss of reigning SEC Player of the Year Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the NBA Draft has taken its toll on the Bulldogs, but they’re much more equipped to deal with his loss now that fifth-year head coach Mark Fox has a handful of recruiting classes under his belt.
Georgia has struggled early on, suffering setbacks to Georgia Tech, Davidson, Temple and Nebraska, but they’ve been competitive in just about every one of those losses. The team’s only two wins have come against Southern Conference opponents Wofford and Appalachian State.
The Bulldogs don’t possess quite the same amount of star power without Caldwell-Pope, but they’ve got a couple of capable scorers in the backcourt in sophomores Charles Mann (16.3 ppg) and Kenny Gaines (13.0 ppg). Junior Namanja Djurisic (11.2 ppg) is another solid scoring option off the bench, and the 6-foot-8 forward could provide some matchup problems for the undersized Mocs.
“It is a different atmosphere in the locker room after a win. It is a breath of fresh air when you’re able to enjoy a win, and now we’re going to enjoy the rest of this trip and enjoy being with each other. It feels good to get a victory and now we want to string some more together.”
— Chattanooga head coach Will Wade
Monday’s contest marks the final game of five in a row away from McKenzie Arena, which included a four-game western road swing for the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. ... Georgia holds a 26-5 series advantage over Chattanooga, but the Mocs are 2-3 against the Bulldogs since their move to Division I (1977-78). The last meeting —a 73-70 UTC win— sparked the school’s run to the 1997 Sweet 16. ... Monday marks Chattanooga’s first trip to Athens, Ga., since the 1949-50 season. Of the five meetings in the D-I era, three have been played in Chattanooga and the other two at neutral sites. ... The Mocs currently lead the SoCon in scoring (82.5 ppg), steals (10.0 spg) and turnover margin (+3.0).
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.