Chattanooga (18-14) at East Tennessee State (18-15)
03/18/2014 7:38 AM
03/18/2014 7:47 AM
GAME NOTES: Former conference rivals will meet up in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament on Tuesday night, as the East Tennessee State Buccaneers play host to the Chattanooga Mocs at ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
At 18-14, Chattanooga has enjoyed its best season since qualifying for the NCAA Tournament in 2009. The Mocs went into the Southern Conference Tournament as the No. 2 seed but were upset in the quarterfinal round by seventh-seeded Georgia Southern, 62-55, and they have gone just 5-10 on the road.
After an uncharacteristically miserable 10-22 campaign in 2012-13, ETSU (18-15) bounced back this season to assure itself a record above .500 for the eighth time in the past nine years. The Buccaneers are losers of three of their last four games however, including a 69-64 setback to Florida Gulf Coast in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament semifinals.
These former SoCon foes have met 75 times before, with Chattanooga holding to a 43-32 advantage. The teams have met just four times since ETSU left the league in 2005.
The Mocs did not take advantage of their first-round bye in the SoCon Tournament, as they shot just 42.6 percent from the field (including 4-of-20 from 3-point range) and committed a game-high 14 turnovers in the seven-point loss Georgia Southern. Z. Mason impressed with 21 points and nine rebounds, but he also hurt the squad with five turnovers. Casey Jones netted 12 points and Gee McGhee made up for a 2-of-8 showing from the field by hauling in 12 boards.
Chattanooga's defensive effort has been suspect all season long, as it allows opponents to shoot 46.2 percent from the field for 73.8 ppg, but luckily its offensive attack (75.7 ppg) is usually good enough to support it. Mason puts up 18.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg and 2.9 bpg was selected to the All-SoCon First Team. Rounding out the double-digit scorers are Jones (12.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Ronrico White (10.8 ppg) and McGhee (10.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg).
The Buccaneers battled tight with top-seeded FGCU throughout their semifinal- round contest and even held a two-point lead with 3:37 left following a pair of Rashawn Rembert free throws, but they were outscored down the stretch 8-2 en route to the loss. The offense couldn't get much going (.333 FG percentage), but Rembert nearly lifted the team to victory with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field, including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Jalen Riley and Devin Harris poured in 13 and 10 points, respectively, while A.J. Merriweather collected 10 rebounds.
On the season, ETSU's offensive output (76.8 ppg) has been nearly identical to what it gives up on the other end of the court (76.2 ppg), and it is able to make up for its lackluster rebounding margin (-3.2) with a +2.2 showing per game in the turnover department. Rembert was one of the A-Sun's best with 16.8 ppg, sinking 103 3-pointers at a 43.1 percent clip. Jalen Riley (13.2 ppg), Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (10.9 ppg), Lester Wilson (10.3 ppg), Merriweather (9.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Hunter Harris (9.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg) are also integral parts of a balanced squad.
In a matchup between two otherwise well-matched teams, expect ETSU to step up down the stretch in front of its home crowd.
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