ATHENS, Ga. — It wasn't a particularly friendly matchup for an undersized Chattanooga squad. An atrocious shooting performance certainly didn’t help matters, either.
UTC, on the final leg of a grueling five-game road swing, shot just 19 of 64 (29.7%) from the field, and Georgia had absolutely no problem getting to the rim in its 87-56 throttling of the visiting Mocs (3-6).
Chattanooga’s problems ran much deeper than that, though.
“We got down by like 10, 15 points, then maybe we got scared and just kind of gave up,” Chattanooga junior Martynas Bareika said. “Maybe we didn’t think we could win—it’s a big school, SEC, whatever. It’s just embarrassing.”
“I think guys were off in their own worlds instead of staying with the team agenda,” added UTC head coach Will Wade. “It was kind of woe is me, things aren’t going great so I’m just going to sit."
That was particularly evident in the closing stages of the first half with Georgia (3-4) in the midst of its game-altering 30-9 run. Mocs sophomore Gee McGhee sold out for a loose ball, diving on the ground and wrestling it away from a UGA player to force a jump ball. Chattanooga’s bench players seemed to not even acknowledge their teammate’s hustle play.
“When things don’t go well, human nature and our guys’ nature, is to make it all about yourself,” Wade said. “When things don’t go well, you’ve got to rely on the team even more. That’s what we’re trying to stress and that’s what we’re trying to change.”
It might have been fatigue—mental or physical. It might have been UTC feeling sorry for itself. It could have been a combination of both.
Whatever it was, it definitely wasn’t Chaos.
From just about the opening tip on, the Mocs were out of rhythm. Instead of taking it to the their opponents, they were settling for contested jumpers. The overwhelming majority were misses, and to make matters worse, they were bad misses.
“We were shooting turnovers,” Wade said. “We’re not a good shooting team. We’ve got to loosen the defense up so we can get wide open looks. We’re shooting shot-fake 3s that you’re never going to make.”
When the Mocs did take it inside, they were met by plenty of resistance. UGA piled up 10 blocked shots in the contest, while holding a 54-22 advantage in points in the paint. The Bulldogs, who jumped out to a 47-17 halftime advantage, pushed the tempo off of those Moc misses, too, nullifying any of the full-court pressure Chattanooga had hoped to utilize.
“I think we kind of let that affect our defense, which we shouldn’t have,” UTC junior Lance Stokes said. “We pride ourselves on being able to press, getting up in guys. If they’re taking the ball off the rim and running, you can’t really set your press. I think that really affected us.”
Chattanooga, led by Bareika’s 14 points and five rebounds, showed some signs of life early in the second period, stringing together an 8-2 run, but it did little to sway the outcome.
Sophomore Eric Robertson tied his season-high with 13 points on 5 of 9 shooting, while McGhee finished with nine points and five boards. Junior Nemanja Djurisic scored a team-high 14 points for the Bulldogs, while Juan Parker contributed 11 and Jenny Gaines chipped in 10.
• Sophomore guard Casey Jones (hip) left the game late in the first half and did not return. Freshman point guard Greg Pryor (hip) was also banged up in the lopsided loss, along with Stokes (foot), who'll undergo an X-ray on Tuesday.
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.
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