FACTS & STATS: Site: McKenzie Arena (10,928) -- Chattanooga, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: WCU 4-2, UTC 5-6. Away Record: WCU 2-8, UTC 3-4. Neutral Record: WCU 1-1, UTC 0-0. Conference Record: WCU 4-2, UTC 3-2. Series Record: Chattanooga leads, 57-21.
GAME NOTES: The Western Carolina Catamounts hope to return to their winning ways as they visit McKenzie Arena to tangle with the Chattanooga Mocs in a Southern Conference tilt.
This will be the 79th meeting all-time between these long-time rivals. UTC owns a 57-21 series edge, although the teams have split the last 10 encounters.
Western Carolina lost its second in a row on Thursday as it was dealt a 64-60 setback at Samford. The loss dropped the Catamounts to 7-11 on the season, including their 4-2 standing in league play. Coach Larry Hunter's team is averaging just 0.1 points per game more than it allows, but it leads the SoCon with 8.1 steals per contest.
Trey Sumler leads the Catamounts with 17.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.1 steals per contest. He is second in the league in scoring and steals. The junior guard was unable to find his touch the last time out, finishing 6- of-16 from the field for 13 points. Tawaski King stepped up his play to pace the team with 14 points, while Brandon Boggs posted 13 points and seven rebounds. The Catamounts converted 50.9 percent of their field goal attempts, but could not overcome a dismal 2-of-12 showing from 3-point range.
John Shulman's Mocs should not be too hard to outscore from beyond the arc, as they come in with a SoCon-low .298 3-point field goal percentage. They survived an overtime thriller against Appalachian State on Thursday to walk away with a 91-88 decision, thus picking up their third win in four outings. UTC has shown a drastic improvement since its 2-8 start as it now sits just two games below .500. Z. Mason registered a double-double with 23 points and 11 boards, while Dontay Hampton added 22 points in relief work. The Mocs needed to overcome a 60-42 deficit with 8:48 remaining to force the extra session.
The Mocs did their work on the glass, pulling down 42 rebounds to the Mountaineers' 32, during their come-from-behind win. The strong performance from their 6-foot-5 power forward was nothing out of the ordinary. Mason paces UTC with 13.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per outing and Hampton, who was just activated on Jan. 10, is producing 12.7 ppg in his brief time this season. Ronrico White (9.8 ppg, 2.9 apg) and Gee McGhee (9.6 ppg, 1.4 spg) are both threats to make an impact in the box score on any given night.
These two squads match up pretty evenly. Sumler can make the difference if he gets into a rhythm, but Mason will most likely control the boards against WCU's four-guard lineup to keep the hosts in it.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Carolina 67, Chattanooga 63
01/19 10:37:51 ET
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