Elon (19-8, 12-3) at Chattanooga (11-17, 6-9)
Saturday, February 22, 7:30 p.m. ET
McKenzie Arena (10, 928) • Chattanooga, Tenn.
Radio: ESPN 105.1 FM
Series Record: Chattanooga leads, 11-10
Probable Elon starters
G-Sebastian Koch, 6-8, 200, JR (9.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.3 apg)
F-Ryley Beaumont, 6-7, 220, JR (11.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.9 apg)
F-Lucas Troutman, 6-10, 220, JR (14.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.1 spg)
G-Jack Isenbarger, 6-2, 180, JR (13.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.9 apg)
G-Tanner Samson, 6-4, 193, FR (6.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.1 spg)
Key reserves: Ryan Winters (6-7, 210, SO); Tony Sobato (6-7, 225, FR); Kevin Blake (6-3, 190, SO).
Probable Chattanooga starters
F-Lance Stokes, 6-6, 217, SO (3.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg)
F-Z. Mason, 6-5, 238, JR (14.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 0.9 bpg)
C-Drazen Zlovaric, 6-9, 220, SR (8.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, .502 FG%)
G-Ronrico White, 6-3, 170, SO (9.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.1 apg)
G-Gee McGhee, 6-5, 200, FR (12.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.4 spg)
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
The Mocs have kept it together through much of this season's down times. They haven’t encountered many like these, though. After the dismissal of freshman point guard Farad Cobb on Tuesday, followed by Thursday’s 26-point throttling by UNCG, Chattanooga has hit a low point.
Even after last Saturday’s 20-point loss at Wofford, coach John Shulman insisted his team’s confidence wasn’t shattered. He couldn’t say the same after Thursday’s 94-68 setback.
In their last two losses, the Mocs have allowed two 30-point scorers, 46 assists and 31 3-pointers, while letting their opponents shoot 48 percent from the field and 53 percent from beyond the arc.
While it’s stuck in a downward spiral as the regular season winds down, things could still get a lot worse for Chattanooga, which has three regular-season games remaining, starting with Saturday's Senior Night showdown with the SoCon North Division champs, Elon.
The Phoenix, currently riding a four-game winning streak, has won 11 of its last 12, and while Elon rolled to a 24-point victory over the Mocs on Jan. 24, most of the team’s wins have been hard to come by, especially as of late.
Each of its last four victories have been by single digits, including a 63-62 win at Samford on Thursday, in which junior Ryley Beaumont, who finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds, added the go-ahead bucket with eight seconds left to beat the Bulldogs and capture the SoCon North crown.
Phoenix junior Lucas Troutman is the SoCon’s fifth-leading scorer (14.9 ppg), and the 6-10 forward notched 18 in last week’s 80-73 overtime victory over Western Carolina—his first game back from an ankle injury that forced him to miss the squad's three-point win over Appalachian State.
UTC coach John Shulman on Thursday’s demoralizing home loss to UNCG: “You talk about the kids being shell-shocked, so am I ... In theory it counts as one loss, but it doesn’t feel like that right now.”
Saturday will be the final home game for three Chattanooga players, as well as a trio of long-time student managers. In addition to seniors Dontay Hampton and Drazen Zlovaric, UTC will also bid farewell to redshirt junior Drew Baker, who will be completing his accounting degree this May. Student managers Jared Hawkins, Brian Murphy and Brett Stuart will also be honored Saturday for their contributions to the program. ... The Phoenix lead the SoCon in three-pointers made (212), while Chattanooga has allowed—by far—the most treys in the league (248), 35 more than The Citadel. Elon also leads the league in field-goal percentage defense (.407 percent) and turnover margin (+2.6). ... Coach Matt Matheny is 57-64 in four seasons at Elon, 4-3 against Chattanooga and 1-2 at McKenzie Arena.
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.