Chattanooga (6-8) at Furman (6-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 4, 4 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Timmons Arena (3,500) -- Greenville, South Carolina. Television: None. Home Record: UTC 5-1, Furman 4-2. Away Record: UTC 0-6, Furman 2-5. Neutral Record: UTC 1-1, Furman 0-0. Conference Record: UTC 0-0, Furman 0-0. Series Record: UTC leads, 48-25.
GAME NOTES: The Chattanooga Mocs and Furman Paladins are set to square off in their respective Southern Conference openers at Timmons Arena.
Chattanooga is winless in six true road games this season. However, the Mocs bring some confidence into this bout after winning the Dr. Pepper Classic Championship as the host school on Monday with an 86-80 triumph over Maine. It marked the fifth time in the last six years the Mocs won the event, and the 16th time in 24 years overall.
Furman has been hot and cold throughout the season's early going, but the Paladins are coming off Monday's 75-65 win at UC Davis. They could certainly use another victory here before hitting the road for four of their next five games.
In terms of the all-time series between these two teams, Chattanooga holds a 48-25 advantage.
UTC's Z. Mason won the MVP of the Dr. Pepper Classic for the second straight year and has posted three double-doubles in a row, averaging 24.0 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks during that span. He also got plenty of help from his supporting cast against Maine in the title game, as Casey Jones and Ronrico White scored 20 apiece, and Gee McGhee recorded his own double-double with 17 points and 10 assists. The Mocs made only 13-of-27 free throws for the game, although they shot 51.7 percent from the floor and 44 percent from 3-point range (11-of-25). White, who missed the first nine games of the season while recovering from summer hip surgery, made all five of his 3-point attempts and scored in double-digits in both Dr. Pepper Classic games. Still, Mason is the focal point, as he ranks in the top-five in the SoCon in scoring (18.1 ppg; 5th), rebounding (8.4 rpg; 3rd), field-goal percentage (55.0; 5th) and blocks (2.1 bpg; 1st).
While the Mocs are guided by first-year head coach Will Wade, former Colorado State assistant Niko Medved is in his first year at the helm at Furman. The Paladins are led by sophomore guard Stephen Croone, a 51.2-percent shooter from the floor who averages 20.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Larry Wideman (12.2) and William Gates (10.8) also average double figures in the scoring column. Interestingly, Gates has made 17-of-35 3-pointers (.486) but only 11-of-23 free throws (.478). The Paladins shot 52 percent from the floor in their win over UC Davis and held the Aggies to 37-percent shooting. Croone finished with 17 points behind 5-of-8 shooting to pace five Paladins in double figures. Furman held an 18-5 edge in bench points and outscored the Aggies in the paint, 42-22.
Mason presents a matchup problem for Furman, but the Mocs have simply not played well on the road this season. Look for the Paladins to ride Croone to another win on their home floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Furman 67, Chattanooga 63
01/04 10:41:36 ET