Samford (8-16, 6-5) at Chattanooga (9-15, 4-7)
Monday, Feb. 11, 7:30 p.m. ET
McKenzie Arena (10,928) • Chattanooga, Tenn.
Radio: ESPN 105.1 FM
Series Record: Chattanooga leads 49-35
Probable Samford Starters
F-Clide Geffrard Jr., 6-5, 215, FR (8.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.0 apg)
F-Tyer Hood, 6-6, 200, SO (8.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, .452 FG%)
F-Tim Williams, 6-8, 210, FR (14.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.3 bpg)
G-Raijon Kelly, 6-3, 175, SO (14.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.5 apg)
G-Connor Miller, 6-3, 175, SO (7.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.2 apg)
Key reserves: Will Cooke (6-4, 185, JR); Russell Wilson (5-11, 170, FR); Brandon Hayman (6-3, 185, SO).
Probable Chattanooga Starters
F-Lance Stokes, 6-6, 217, SO (3.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg)
F-Z. Mason, 6-5, 238, JR (14.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, .485 FG%)
C-Drazen Zlovaric, 6-9, 220, SR (8.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 514 FG%)
G-Ronrico White, 6-3, 170, SO (9.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.8 apg)
G-Gee McGhee, 6-5, 200, FR (11.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.4 spg)
Key reserves: Martynas Bareika (6-4, 208, SO); Jared Bryant (6-7, 240, SO); Farad Cobb (6-0, 160, FR); Sam Watson (6-6, 245, JR).
The opening tip
The Mocs will play their third game in five days when they host Southern Conference North Division opponent Samford on Monday at McKenzie Arena. They defeated the Bulldogs 74-70 at the Pete Hanna Center on Jan. 5 for the team’s first SoCon victory of the season.
Junior Z. Mason scored a career-high 27 points in UTC’s 71-68 loss to College of Charleston on Saturday, but the 6-5 forward was held scoreless in the final 12 minutes of action. Freshman Gee McGhee notched his second-straight 20-point performance in the narrow setback, and the 6-5 freshman is averaging 17.8 points over the last six contests.
Senior Drazen Zlovaric has also stepped up his game offensively in the team’s last few outings. The 6-9 center, who recorded his second double-double of the season last Saturday at Georgia Southern, scored 18 against The Citadel on Thursday before adding 15 against the Cougars.
Samford, second in the North at 6-5, snapped the team’s four-game losing streak with Saturday’s victory over The Citadel.
The Bulldogs, despite having two of the SoCon’s top 10 leading scorers in freshman Tim Williams (14.6 ppg) and sophomore Raijon Kelly (14.3 ppg), are 11th in the conference in scoring offense (61.9 ppg). Their 79 points in the win over The Citadel was the squad’s most in more than two months.
Kelly, second in the SoCon in 3-point percentage (.439 percent), scored a season-high 27 points in Samford’s home loss to Chattanooga. The 6-3 point guard also knocked down a season-high six treys in the four-point defeat.
Samford leads the conference in 3-point field-goal percentage (.377 percent), and is fourth in field-goal percentage (.444 percent), assists (12.4 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.9).
Chattanooga head coach John Shulman on Saturday’s loss to CofC: “I think we needed to prove something to ourselves, and I think we did. I know it’s an L. If we make a play at the end and win, we’re the greatest. We played the same game, we just didn’t make that play. We missed a few free-throws and didn’t make a play. You can go by the Ws and Ls, but I’m not.”
Saturday’s game will be a blackout at McKenzie Arena, and all fans in attendance are encouraged to wear black. ... It will be Chattanooga’s 85th meeting with Samford, the most of any school. The Mocs lead the series 49-35, and they’re 7-3 against the Bulldogs since they joined the SoCon in 2008-2009. ... The Mocs shot a season-best 57.8 percent (26 of 45) from the field in their win over Samford in early January, while Mason and McGhee each scored 17 in the victory. ... Samford head coach Bennie Seltzer, formerly an assistant for coach Tom Creen at Indiana, is in his first season in charge of the Bulldogs.
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.