Chattanooga (11-15, 6-7) at Wofford (10-17, 4-10)
Saturday, February 16, 7 p.m. ET
Benjamin Johnson Arena (3,500) • Spartanburg, S.C.
Radio: ESPN 105.1 FM
Series Record: Chattanooga leads, 16-11
Probable Chattanooga Starters
F-Lance Stokes, 6-6, 217, SO (4.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.0 apg)
F-Z. Mason, 6-5, 238, JR (14.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 0.9 bpg)
C-Drazen Zlovaric, 6-9, 220, SR (8.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, .523 FG%)
G-Ronrico White, 6-3, 170, SO (9.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.1 apg)
G-Gee McGhee, 6-5, 200, FR (11.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.3 spg)
Key reserves: Martynas Bareika (6-4, 208, SO); Jared Bryant (6-7, 240, SO); Farad Cobb (6-0, 160 FR); Casey Jones (6-5, 185, FR); Sam Watson (6-7, 245, JR).
Probable Wofford Starters
G- Spencer Collins, 6-4, 200, FR (12.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
F-Aerris Smith, 6-8, 250, JR (3.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, .507 FG%)
F-Lee Skinner, 6-6, 212, SO (10.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.3 spg)
G-Indiana Faithfull, 6-4, 200, SO (4.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.6 apg)
G-Karl Cochran, 6-1, 170, SO (15.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.2 spg)
Key reserves: Jarell Byrd (6-6, 192, SO); C.J. Neumann (6-7, 220, FR); Justin Gordon (6-6, 195, FR).
The opening tip
The Mocs are playing their best basketball of the season, and, with just five Southern Conference games remaining, just in time for a late-season push. Chattanooga has won three of its last four, including Thursday’s 34-point rout of Furman.
UTC was plus-34 on the glass during its the four-game stretch, while holding opponents to 60 points of fewer in back-to-back games for the first time all season. Offensively, contributions are coming from all around.
Junior Z Mason scored a career-high 27 points in the Mocs' only loss in their recent home stand—last Saturday’s 71-68 setback to College of Charleston—while sophomore Lance Stokes, along with freshmen Gee McGhee, Eric Robertson and Farad Cobb, have also set career-highs in the last eight days.
Freshman Casey Jones returned to the lineup Thursday, and despite senior center Drazen Zlovaric breaking his nose on Stokes’ elbow, the team is as healthy as it has been all season.
Chattanooga, now just a game under .500 in Southern Conference action this season, hits the road for the first time in two weeks when it travels to Spartanburg, S.C., to face Wofford on Saturday.
The Terriers, third in the SoCon South Division at 4-10, knocked off North Division leader Elon 60-50 last week at Benjamin Johnson Arena, but they've since dropped consecutive road games at Western Carolina and Samford.
The Terriers, last in the SoCon in scoring offense (58.6 ppg), haven’t managed to score over 65 points in more than a month, and they were held to a season-low 33 in Thursday’s seven-point loss to the Bulldogs. Wofford also ranks last in the league in field goal percentage (38.7%) as well as 3-point field goal percentage (26.9%).
Sophomore Karl Cochran, the 2012 SoCon Freshman of the Year, enters Saturday's contest ranked third in league in scoring at 15.2 points per game. The league’s top two scorers—UNCG’s Trevis Simpson (19.7 ppg) and Western Carolina’s Trey Sumler (18.1 ppg)—both torched the Mocs earlier this season, scoring well above their season averages.
UTC's defensive numbers have improved since Simpson’s 41-point performance in last month’s 77-69 loss at the Greensboro Coliseum, but prolific scorers have presented the team with problems all season.
Cochran is one of three Terriers averaging in double-figures along with freshman Spencer Collins (12.8 ppg) and sophomore Lee Skinner (10.1 ppg). Skinner, a 6-6 forward, is also the team’s leading rebounder (7.3 rpg), and he's tied with UTC's Mason for fourth in the SoCon.
UTC freshman Gee McGhee on the recent home stand, and maintaining the momentum away from McKenzie Arena: “We just needed to get home; needed to rest our legs in a comfortable environment. We can do things on our own time; just the little things really. We had four games here, now we’ve got to face reality; go out and play the same game that we’ve been playing.”
In 2011-12, the Terriers advanced to the postseason for the third straight year, playing in the CBI after two years of advancing to the NCAA Tournament. Wofford lost 61 percent of its scoring from a season ago, though, returning just one starter (Cochran). ... Head coach Mike Young has compiled a 166-170 record in 11 seasons at Wofford, ranking 14th in SoCon history in career wins. He’s 7-8 against Chattanooga in his career. ... The Mocs hold a 16-11 series advantage over the Terriers, and they captured a 51-48 win over Wofford last season at McKenzie Arena. The two schools are tied even at 5-5 in the last 10 games. Wofford holds an 8-5 advantage in games played in Spartanburg.
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.