Chattanooga and Lipscomb will hook up on Tuesday night in the Mocs final out of conference game of the season, while the Bison will have one more after this one.
The Mocs are off to a 10-2 start and are in position to contend for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. However, they have struggled recently against Kennesaw State and Radford. While Radford is not a bad team, the Owls are not particularly good, so the Mocs, while still winning, are struggling a bit.
On the other hand, Lipscomb is 4-11, with two of those wins coming against non-D1 teams. They have lost seven straight games against D1 competition. This club is looking to get things going in a positive way before hopping into Atlantic Sun play on January 9. Four of their last five losses have been by single digits, so they have been in close games, but have not gotten things to go their way at the end.
The Bison will be without Josh Williams. He has missed most of the last three games with a torn ACL. He is out the rest of the year, and he was certainly one of their best players and was considered one of the top players in the A-Sun. His loss will be sorely missed.
It is JC Hampton that will be relied on to pick up the slack. He has made 37.4% of his threes this year and scored 15.5 points per game. Nathan Moran has made 39.6% of his threes. He is averaging 12.0 points per game and 5.3 assists. This team is 7th in the country in percentage of their points scored on threes and ranks 90th in 3 point field goal percentage at 36.7% as a team. This team makes a bunch of threes and Moran and Hampton lead the charge on that front.
This team plays relatively tall, especially for a mid-major. Brett Wishon is 6-9 and Eli Pepper is 6-8. Pepper averages 7.5 rebounds per game, while Wishon gets just 2.7. They average 7.9 and 7.0 points per game, respectively. This team only ranks 219th in the country in defensive rebounding percentage and 321st in offensive rebounding percentage.
The Mocs, of course, are missing their own stud in Casey Jones, the preseason SoCon Player of the Year. Without him, the Mocs have turned to Greg Pryor even more. The point guard has developed into the team leader and 10.4 points and 3.3 assists per contest. He is making 42.2% of his threes on the season, while Eric Robertson is knocking down 46.9% of his threes. The Mocs are making 39.5% of their threes on the season, which ranks 34th in the country. Thanks to ability of players like the 6-10 Justin Tuoyo, they also make over 50% of their two point shots, which helps them be 44th in the country in effective field goal percentage. Tuoyo is averaging 10.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.
Duke Ethridge and Johnathan Burroughs-Cook both have a great deal of athletic ability that they have shown off throughout the season. Tre McLean is also long and athletic and therefore a great defensive player. He has developed into a better scorer this year as well.
The Mocs defense has allowed opponents to make 38.6% of their three point shots, which ranks 311th in the country. The Lipscomb offense, which relies so heavily on the three, will be looking to capitalize on that. The Bison also have the height to present problems to Tuoyo on both ends of the floor. How will Tuoyo respond to that?
Lipsomb has one of the worst defenses in the country. They will struggle to slow down players like Pryor and Burroughs-Cook. Those two should be looking for big games in this one.
If Lipscomb knocks down a high percentage of their threes, they can certainly win this game. The Mocs, though, look to come back refreshed from Christmas Break and establish themselves further heading into SoCon play, which starts on Saturday. The Mocs have a shot at an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament, but need to keep on winning to get there. The Mocs need to win this one to keep that dream in sight, no matter how slim the chances are. In the end, the athleticism of the guards will be too much on the offensive end of the floor for the Bison, as the Mocs pick up a high scoring win. Mocs 83, Bison 75.