Chattanooga dominated UAB from Conference USA on Monday night in McKenzie Arena, 83-67. The Mocs took control of the game in the first half, jumping out to a 46-25 lead.
Rico White and Eric Robertson started the game off hot, making threes to help take control early. The Mocs were unrelenting on defense, forcing turnovers and making big shots. UAB cut the lead down to nine in the second half, but the Mocs reasserted themselves, leaving the game not in doubt in the final minutes.
Justin Tuoyo is a developing threat for this Mocs team. He had eleven points to go along with twelve rebounds, seven of them being the offensive variety. He also came up with three blocks. He impacts the defensive end as well as any player in the Southern Conference, and he is one of the better rebounders in the conference as well. As his offensive game continues to develop, Tuoyo has the potential to be one of the SoCon's most feared players during conference play.
Greg Pryor led the team with eighteen points. In a lot of ways, he was in control of this game from the beginning. It was not necessarily his scoring. It was not necessarily how many assists he had (just two). But the point guard has developed into a solid, consistent performer. He was in control of the offense and came up with three steals on the defensive side.
Casey Jones, the Mocs best player, made just 4 of 15 from the floor, but still scored fourteen points with three assists and nine rebounds and contributed in all the little ways.
That's what the Mocs look like at home. They have been good in McKenzie this year, losing to just Georgia on their home court. They have not been nearly as good on the road, winning at just The Citadel. This is a team that plays with energy and does all the little things at home it takes to win, but has found it hard to translate that to road games. Can the Mocs learn to win on the road?
For UAB, this was the Blazers worst loss in terms of point differential other than against Wisconsin this year. This was also the Blazers first true road game of the year. Robert Brown came up with 19 points and continues to impress for them. However, the Blazers really need C.J. Washington to start stepping up. He scored just seven points and had two rebounds off the bench. Washington was expected to be one of the stars, but seems to be struggling with confidence right now.
UAB also did not play with much energy during the first twenty minutes. They did play with a sense of urgency in the second half (particularly in the middle ten minutes) and that was how they cut the lead to nine, but the 26 point deficit was too much to overcome. Nick Norton was the only one that showed a lot of energy during the first twenty minutes. He is an important piece to the puzzle for the Blazers.
The Mocs (7-6) get their next four at home, against Lipscomb and then three straight SoCon games against Furman, Wofford and Western Carolina. Wofford is the SoCon favorite, but the Mocs are right behind the Terriers and, if they can come up with a statement win in early January on their home floor, could turn the SoCon race around.
The Blazers (4-8) have to go to North Carolina, who they shocked last year, before opening Conference USA play at Middle Tennessee. The Blazers seem to be towards the bottom of the conference, but if they can find a way to harness the energy they played with during the middle ten minutes of the second half tonight, they may be able to get into the middle of the pack.