DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 1, 7:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: McKenzie Arena (10,928) -- Chattanooga, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: Davidson 1-0, UTC 1-3. Away Record: Davidson 0-2, UTC 1-1. Neutral Record: Davidson 2-1, UTC 0-0. Conference Record: Davidson 0-0, UTC 0-0. Series Record: UTC leads, 32-23.
GAME NOTES: Southern Conference play gets underway Saturday night for the Davidson Wildcats and Chattanooga Mocs, as the two are set to tip it off at McKenzie Arena.
Davidson finished as the runner-up at the 2012 Old Spice Classic with wins over Vanderbilt (75-62) and West Virginia (63-60) before losing to No. 17 Gonzaga (81-67) in Sunday's title game. The Wildcats are playing their sixth straight game away from home, a stretch that has covered nearly 7,000 miles. However, the 'Cats face a familiar foe tonight as they try to win their SoCon opener for the 10th time in their last 11 tries.
Chattanooga has been idle since a much needed 65-51 win at Kennesaw State last Saturday. Prior to that, the Mocs went winless in four games at the CBE Classic. They'll now look to take advantage of some favorable scheduling that has them playing four of their next five games at McKenzie Arena.
UTC owns a 32-23 advantage in the head-to-head series, although Davidson has won 10 of the last 11 meetings.
Nik Cochran scored a season-high 17 points to pace three Wildcats in double figures on Sunday night. Jake Cohen scored 13 points and De'Mon Brooks finished with 12, but Davidson's defensive effort left much to be desired. Gonzaga was able to pull away by shooting a ridiculous 69.6 percent (16-of-23) from the floor and knocking down 6-of-8 3-pointers in the second half. The Wildcats shot just 36.2 percent for the game. Through six games, the team boasts four players averaging double figures in the scoring column, led by Brooks with 17.2 ppg to go along with a team-best 5.7 rpg. The Wildcats have inflicted lots of damage at the free-throw line, where they are shooting 79.4 percent as a team (100-of-126) to enter the weekend tied for fourth nationally. They went 19-of-21 from the charity stripe against Gonzaga.
The Mocs figure to have the advantage down on the blocks, as they are an astounding +11.7 in rebounding margin to rank 12th in the nation. Chattanooga is also tied for sixth in offensive boards per game (17.0) while leading the SoCon in offensive (.438) and defensive (.749) rebound percentage. Forwards Drazen Zlovaric and Z Mason are the main reasons behind those rankings. Mason paces the squad with 11.3 ppg to go along with 7.0 rpg, while Zlovaric is averaging 10.5 points and 7.5 caroms. Zlovaric tops the league and entered the weekend tied for 17th in the country in offensive rebounds per game (4.0). In the backcourt, freshman Gee McGhee (9.2 ppg) has come on strong over his last four contests, averaging 12.0 ppg. In last week's 14-point win at Kennesaw State, Mason led four Mocs in double figures with 14 points, eight rebounds and a career-high four blocks.
Davidson has dominated this series in recent years. However, if the Wildcats don't have an answer for Zlovaric and Mason in the paint, they could be looking at a long day.