ASHEVILLE, N.C. Last season, it was the David vs. Goliath battle of the Palmetto State at the US Cellular Arena. This year, it will be two parts of the SoCon old guard to do battle deciding the SoCon's NCAA Tournament automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament, as two bitter rivals from the Volunteer State will do battle in the title game to decide who goes Dancing out of the Southern Conference.
Two old familiar foes will meet to decide who represents the SoCon in the 2016 NCAA Tournament with the two top seeds advancing to Monday night's title game.
It's believed to be the first Southern Conference title game ever contested between two first year head coaches.
What You Need To Know:
--Chattanooga and East Tennessee State have combined to win 16 Southern Conference Tournament titles, and will be meeting in the Southern Conference Tournament for the first time since the 2005 edition of the postseason event, with Chattanooga posting a 77-70 win over ETSU in the quarterfinals to mark what was then the final game in the history of ETSU's SoCon history before joining the Atlantic Sun a year later. However, nine years later, the Bucs would find themselves back in the SoCon, and just a decade since leaving for the A-Sun, now find themselves in the title game.
--Chattanooga has played the entire season without Preseason SoCon Player of the Year Casey Jones, but for the second year in a row, the Mocs have the league's defensive Player-of-Year for two-straight years running, in Justin Tuoyo.
--ETSU had not won a game in the Southern Conference Tournament until defeating Mercer 81-65 in an opening round matchup in the 2016 Tournament. Last year, the Bucs lost to Western Carolina in a quarterfinal clash, losing 67-61. The last win prior to winning two in 2016 was an 87-84 win over Furman in Chattanooga in the 2005 SoCon Tournament. The Bucs also downed the Paladins in the semifinals last night, with a
--Chattanooga and East Tennessee State will be meeting for the 13th time in the Southern Conference Tournament, with the series all-tied at 6-6. Of the current membership, no Chattanooga has faced no other team more in the league's conference tournament.
--Monday night's clash marks the sixth time the two have squared off in the Southern Conference title game, with those meetings listed below.
--Chattanooga has gone 42-10 in Southern Conference play since the start of the 2013-14 season.
--ETSU is 32-19 all-time in Southern Conference play and the Bucs are 6-7 in league tournament play against Chattanooga.
--Chattanooga men's team has never won a title in the same season that its women's team claimed a crown.
--The two teams meeting in the title game have a combined 51 wins. It's also the first time that two teams meet in the title game with 20 or more wins in the SoCon since the 2013 title game between Davidson and College of Charleston.
--Chattanooga is 54-28 all-time in tournament play.
--Chattanooga and ETSU have combined to win 16 Southern Conference Tournament titles, and have four NCAA Tournament wins, with Chattanooga notching three of those victories.
Meetings in the SoCon Championship Games (ETSU leads 3-2 in championship games)
1983 (Chattanooga 70, ETSU 62)--Gerald Wilkins helped lead the Mocs over the Bucs in the first-ever meeting in the title between the two.
1992 (ETSU 74, Chattanooga 63)--ETSU's four-year dynasty in the SoCon fittingly comes to an end with a meeting with the other major power in the SoCon, with an 11-point win.
1993 (Chattanooga 86, ETSU 75)--The combination of Gary Robb's defense, and the guard play of Keith Nelson, helped lead the Mocs to the title and put an end to one of the greatest dynasties in the history of Southern Conference basketball.
The Jeff Lebo Years at Chattanooga:
2003 (ETSU 97, Chattanooga 90)--ETSU got 25 points from sensational point guard Tim Smith, while talented swingman Zakee Wadood added 17 points, seven boards and five steals to led the Mocs to the win.
2004 (ETSU 78, Chattanooga 62)--For the second straight season, it would be a battle between the Bucs and Mocs again, and this time Tim Smith would match his 2003 game-high honors, while Jerald Fields in what was a 78-62 win by the Mocs in the North Charleston Coliseum.
Rivalry and Tradition:
Former Chattanooga Mocs Hall-of-Famer Johnny Taylor Pictured Above
Program Miscellaneous Superlatives:
--Chattanooga made the Sweet Sixteen in 1997, defeating Georgia (W, 73-70) and Illinois (75-63) before eventually losing to Providence. This season, the Mocs opened the season with wins over Georgia (92-90 OT) and Illinois.
--ETSU also sleighed a big foe early on in the season, taking down Georgia Tech with a game winning three-pointer with one second left, helping the Bucs to a thrilling 69-68 win in Atlanta. He finished that contest with 24 points.
--ETSU ascended as high as No. 10 in the nation during the 1990-91 season, which saw the Bucs knock off the likes of NC State, BYU and Memphis State.
--ETSU produced one of the biggest upsets in the history of the modern tournament, taking down Lute Olson's Arizona Wildcats in the 1992 NCAA Tournament.
--UTC's Johnny Taylor was selected 17th overall by the the Orlando Magic in the 1998 NBA Draft
---UTC's Gerald Wilkins was drafted by the New York Knicks in 1986
--UTC won a Division II national title in 1976-77 under the direction of Ron Shumate.
--ETSU's Keith "Mister" Jennings was the 1990-91 Southern Conference Player of the Year
--ETSU's Trazel Silvers was once a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.
--UTC's Mindaugas Katelynas (2005) and ETSU's Calvin Talford (1992) both won the college dunk contest.
--As a member of the Atlantic Sun in 2009, ETSU nearly became the first No. 16 seed to ever upset a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, getting within 59-57 with 4:27 remaining, but No.1 Pittsburgh regained its composure and Jamie Dixon's club fought hard to fight off ETSU, 72-62 in an opening round clash.
--Mack McCarthy's Mocs of 1997 will go down as maybe the best team in school history, and with the likes of Willie Young, Johnny Taylor and Chris Mims--no not the one from Texas--the Mocs went on to make school history by advancing all the way to the Sweet 16, using their athleticism and tenacious defense to do so. The Mocs knocked off Georgia and Illinois before losing to the God Shamgod-led Providence Friars, then under the direction of Pete Gillen, 71-65, in Birmingham.
--Chattanooga has a school-record 28 wins, eclipsing the 27 wins won by two teams, in the 1981-82 Mocs and 1976-77 Mocs.
--ETSU has reached the NCAA Tournament nine times, including six by winning the Southern Conference Tournament, claiming crowns in 1989 (def Marshall, 96-73); '90 (def Appalachian State, 96-73); '91 (def Appalachian State 101-82); '92 (def Chattanooga
--Chattanooga and East Tennessee State have met four times since the Bucs returned to the SoCon last season, with the Mocs winning all four games.
--Chattanooga ended its five-year streak of losing its first SoCon game in the tournament with a 59-54 win over Samford in a quarterfinal matchup and followed that up with a 73-69 win over Western Carolina.
--Leading the Mocs so far thin the tournament has been a very balanced effort. In the opening win, Duke Etheridge posted 13 points and 12 boards, while All-SoCon selection Tre' McClean posted 16 points in the win.
pictured above: ETSU has not defeated Chattanooga on the hardwood since the 2014 CIT Tournament, when the Bucs won a 77-63 decision at Freedom Hall in Johnson City.
--In the win over Furman last night, Ge'Lawn Guyn poured in 22 points to lead for Bucs in double figures in the win. In two games in the tournament, Guyn has a combined 47 points, also posting 25 in the opening win over Mercer.
The "T" is for transfer:
Ge'Lawn Guyn (Cincinnati--ETSU)
Deuce Bello (Missouri--ETSU)
Peter Jurkin (Indiana--ETSU)
TJ Cromer (Columbus State--ETSU)
Probable Starting Five For ETSU:
G--Ge'Lawn Guyn (18.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG)
G--TJ Cromer (15.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.1 APG)
G--Petey McClain (2.5 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.7 APG)
F--Isaac Banks (6.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG)
G--Deuce Bello (9.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG)
C--Peter Jurkin (5.2 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 21 Blks)
Probable Starters for Chattanooga:
G/F--Tre' McClean (12.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG)
C--Justin Touyo--(11.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG)
G--Eric Robertson (8.7 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 40% from 3pt range)
G--Greg Pryor (9.8 PPG, 2.2 RPG,3.5 APG)
F--Chuck Ester (7.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG)
Off The Bench:
G--Jonathan Burroughs-Cook (5.9 PPG, 1.8 RPG)
Who Wins: ETSU 84, Chattanooga 82
Link from a story I wrote earlier this year.