CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.---Final exams are coming for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's men's basketball program as it heads to Charlotte, N.C., for the 2010 Southern Conference Tournament March 5-8. Chattanooga, the North Division's No. 3 seed, opens with a first round game on the fifth against Georgia Southern, the South's No. 6, 30 minutes after the 7 p.m., contest.
The Mocs are the defending champion after an epic three-game run in 2009. After graduating five starters, Chattanooga has an entirely new look for the 2010 event.
It has been an up-and-down year for the Mocs. A six-game winning streak in January gave way to an un-even February as the team struggled down the stretch.
A win over Georgia Southern in the opening round will pit the Mocs against College of Charleston in the quarterfinals. The Citadel takes on Samford on opening night in UTC's half of the bracket. That winner faces Appalachian State.
Ty Patterson leads the team in scoring at 14.8 points per game followed by Ricky Taylor who is averaging 11.8 points per contest. Junior forward Ridge McKeither (9.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg) will need to provide a consistent inside presence.
The Eagles are led by guards Willie Powers and Antonio Hanson. Powers boasts a 14.8-point-per-game clip and leads the SoCon with 171 assists (5.5/gm). Hanson adds 13.5 points per contest and 98 of his 143 field goals this season have come from three-point range. GSU is four points shy of being on a five-game winning streak.
Games on the first two days will be played at the Bojangles Coliseum, while the semifinals and championship contests will move to Time Warner Arena, home of the Charlotte Bobcats.
WHO: Ty Patterson. In last season's three SoCon Tourney wins, the Mocs played 600 total team minutes. Taking out the 490 minutes played by the six seniors that departed, Patterson played 72 of remaining 110 (65.5%). His heroics in the championship game, along with the 11 combined minutes by Chris Early and Dante Harvey in the first half, keyed the Mocs run to the title, 80-69 over College of Charleston.
WHAT: Chattanooga (14-17/6-12) vs. Georgia Southern (9-22/6-12). The Mocs are 4-0 against Georgia Southern in the SoCon Tournament with wins in 1994 (semis), 1995 (quarters), 2001 (semis) and 2004 (semis). Overall, UTC is 27-15 all-time against the Eagles including the 75-63 win in Statesboro.
WHEN: Friday-Monday, March 5-8, in the Bojangles Coliseum (11,000) for the First and Quarterfinal Rounds and the Time Warner Arena (20,200) for the Semifinals and Championship games.
WHERE: Chattanooga games are broadcast on the Mocs Sports Network with Jim Reynolds calling the play-by-play. It can be listened to locally on ESPN 105.1 FM and worldwide on GoMocs.com. UTC's first and quarterfinal round games are available at GoMocs.com through Chattanooga All-Access.
HOW: If Chattanooga captures the 2010 SoCon Tournament title, it will become the first program to win it playing four games in four days since the move to a divisional format in 1993. Since 1993, only Furman (2002), Elon (2008) and College of Charleston (2009) have played in the first round and made it to the championship game.
PROBABLE STARTERS: F -Ty Patterson, Sr. (14.7, 4.8); F - Sam Watson, Fr. (2.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg); C - Jeremy Saffore, Jr. (6.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg); G - Keegan Bell, So. (7.5 ppg, 4.7 apg); G - Ricky Taylor, So., (11.8, 3.4).GoMocs.com is the official website of the Chattanooga Mocs. The Mocs can also be followed on their official Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ChattanoogaMocs, or on Twitter, www.twitter.com/GoMocs.