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SoCon Recap: Mocs, Furman Set Stage For Showdown

Chattanooga and Furman each won on Thursday, setting the stage for Saturday's huge game. UNCG also won, putting themselves in great shape for garnering one of the six byes.

Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Scores

ETSU 71, VMI 60

UNCG 75, Western Carolina 58

Chattanooga 79, Wofford 63

Furman 67, Samford 65

Standings

Chattanooga 9-1

Furman 8-3

ETSU 7-3

Mercer 7-3

Wofford 6-4

UNCG 5-5

The Citadel 3-7

Western Carolina 3-7

Samford 2-9

VMI 1-9

Game of the Night: Furman 67, Samford 65

Late in the game, Matt Rafferty knocked down a three pointer to give the Paladins the lead by a point. Darius Jones-Gibson, Christen Cunningham and Matt Rose all missed points in the paint in the final eight seconds, giving the Paladins the victory. Rafferty played very well in this game, scoring 20 points and collecting eight rebounds. The Bulldogs, who have already lost a close game at home to ETSU, continue to not be able to put games away. Furman continues on a path to towards a very high seed in the SoCon Tournament.

Team of the Night: Chattanooga Mocs

The Mocs again won a home game by a wide margin. They fell behind by eight points early and wound up winning by sixteen points against the two time defending SoCon champions. It was not a total domination, but a win of that margin is always impressive. The Mocs now own the tiebreaker over the Terriers because of the season sweep. They are up on Wofford by three games and the tiebreaker with eight games to play. The Mocs have to lose four games and the Terriers win out for Wofford to win the conference. Tre McLean scored 21 points and had six rebounds, while Justin Tuoyo was even better (see below). The Mocs shot 58% from the floor and held the Terriers to 37%.

Player of the Night: Justin Tuoyo, Chattanooga

Tuoyo scored 20 points on 6 of 8 shooting and 8 of 9 shooting from the free throw line. He scored four rebounds and had five blocked shots. Tuoyo was a dominant force in this one. There was no containing him for the Terriers. He also controlled the game on the defensive end of the floor. He was the best player on the floor tonight on either side.

Disappointment of the Night: Western Carolina Catamounts

The Catamounts were simply outclassed tonight in Greensboro. In a game that looked evenly matched on paper, UNCG completely dominated Western Carolina. They made just 2 of 19 from three point range, and when Western Carolina shoots that poorly, they have nothing left to fall back on. The Catamounts were an absolute disaster tonight. They go to VMI on Saturday in a very important game for them to get back on track.

Other Notes

--Furman's win was thrilling over Samford. Now, they go to Chattanooga with a chance to sweep the Mocs and win their third straight over their conference rivals. The two hottest teams in the league battling on Saturday should be a lot of fun. This is a huge game. The stage is set for the showdown.

--Looking at the conference race, the top six are in great position to earn the byes. UNCG is in the 6th spot and is up two games on Western Carolina and The Citadel. A 2-6 record down the stretch might even be enough to get the bye, given that Western Carolina and The Citadel each would have to go 4-4 just to tie the Spartans and hope for the tiebreaker. That seems unlikely. The Spartans are in great shape.

--The Mocs have this brutal stretch of schedule where they play seven games in fifteen days. They have started 3-0 in that stretch. They host Furman then head to Mercer, Western Carolina and ETSU. That's what's left on this schedule. That's four games in eight days starting on Saturday, with three of them against all three teams with three losses in conference play that are closest to the Mocs in the standings. Every win puts them in better position for winning the regular season title.

--ETSU is stumbling right now, losing two road games last weekend. Then the Bucs struggled against VMI tonight for much of the first half. They head to UNCG on Saturday in a game that is important to them. They need to get a win just to get back and track against a pretty solid opponent.

--Mercer will be remembering Jibri Bryan on Saturday. How will they respond in this incredibly difficult situation? They host The Citadel and Chattanooga in their next two games. Playing basketball will be a return to normalcy. The sympathy of the league is with the Bears at this stage.