Wednesday, October 22, 2014 · 5:41 p.m.

Mocs aim to end struggles against Spartans

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It’s been less than two weeks since UNC Greensboro visited McKenzie Arena and mauled the Mocs on their home floor. A little over a month ago, UTC suffered a nine-point road loss to the Spartans at Greensboro Coliseum. 

The Mocs are hoping for better luck against UNCG on Friday at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville N.C., when the two teams square off in the opening round of the 2013 Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Championship.

“We’re coming into it with a chip on our shoulders,” Chattanooga freshman Gee McGhee said. “They came in here and beat us on our court. We’re looking to redeem ourselves. That’s really a team that we feel we can hang with; that we can beat.”

The 10th-seeded Spartans (8-21) are the only team from the SoCon North Division that the Mocs haven't beaten this season, though.

UNCG has lost six of its last seven, and aside from a No. 1 preseason billing, it hasn’t had much to celebrate this year. Except, of course, when it’s playing Chattanooga (13-18).

“We’ve beaten everybody in the North division except them, and they swept us,” Mocs coach John Shulman said. “They’ve lost six out of seven and we’re the only win they’ve got.”

The Spartans are last in the Southern Conference in scoring defense (73.7 ppg), but have held the Mocs under 70  in both meetings this season. As one of the league’s top scoring teams (71.5 ppg), offense hasn’t been a problem for the Spartans, but they just seem to bring a little extra against Chattanooga. 

They scored a season-high 94 points the last time the two teams met, shot 34-for-70 (48.6 percent) from the field and knocked down a season-high 20 3-pointers. 

Senior Trevis Simpson, the SoCon’s leading scorer (18.8 ppg), notched a career-best 41 points in the first meeting, a 77-69 victory over the Mocs on Jan. 27, while sophomore Nicholas Paulos buried 10 3-pointers for a career-high 30 points in the Spartans’ 26-point pummeling of UTC just 11 days ago. 

“What worries me a little is the match up,” Shulman said. “We may match up better with somebody else that's higher up than them, but we can't do anything about that. We've got to figure out how to take care of them.”

The Mocs practiced Monday, they’ll take Tuesday off, then squeeze in one final practice Wednesday before leaving for Asheville that afternoon.  

“I would think we’ll have good attention from our players knowing that we just got humiliated (by UNCG),” Shulman said. “They embarrassed us, poured it on us and kept on doing it. I would say our kids should be ready. From that stand point it’s a good match up.”

Friday’s winner will take on No. 2 Elon, the SoCon North regular season champions, on Saturday at 6 p.m. 

Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.

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