CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- Football fans gathered once again on Chattanooga's Southside Saturday morning for tailgating, food and BASKETBALL as the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's and women's teams took center stage at the First Tennessee Pavilion for the Memorial Blue & Gold Tipoff presented by Prater's.
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Rick Hart welcomed fans and thanked sponsors Memorial Hospital and Prater's Flooring for their support of the Blue & Gold tipoff. He was followed by University Chancellor Dr. Roger Brown who echoed his sentiements.
"We are in the midst of a great, great season with football," Brown said to the crowd circling the court. "We really appreciate the city and fans for standing up with us and "Restoring the Glory."
The court, provided by Prater's flooring was set up in the middle of the pavilion with chairs and bleachers set up for fans to get their best vantage of the events.
"They did a great job to get this set up," Mocs Head Coach John Shulman said. "We appreciate it every year. It's great to combine this with football going on right now."
"Prater's has been unbelievable to us," Lady Mocs Head Coach Wes Moore said. "It's amazing to turn on your TV and watch the NCAA Regionals and Final Four and know that Prater's right here in Chattanooga are the people who put those floors together."
After both teams warmed up on the outdoor court, fans were treated to exhibitions and interactive games. First up is the ever-popular slam dunk contest. Junior Chris Early made his way into the finals after a little chat with the panel of judges to change a couple of "9s" to "10s". Early would go on to win the dunk title over Drazen Zlovaric who transferred to Chattanooga this year.
Next up was the "Last Moc Standing" contest. Mocs coach John Shulman called out his pick as the event starting predicting that "No. 3 in blue" would win. And, indeed, Kayla Christopher in her blue No. 3 practice jersey was the last player standing. She beat out teammate Meghan Downes, Tenisha Townsend, Alex Black and Whitney Hood along with men's players Omar Wattad, Dontay Hampton, Keegan Bell, Sam Watson and Troy Cage for the title making a layup, free throw, 3-pointer and a shot just shy of half court.
The Mocs and Lady Mocs along with fans competed for bragging rights in several "Minute-to-win-it" games. Jahmal Burroughs won the ribbon twirling game as he was the first to completely unroll blue and gold rolls of ribbon in a windmill motion. In the cup contest, Lynette Harris was the first to successfully get her blue cup through the stack of red beating out men's player Micah Ballard and two fans.
Hannah Thurley and Martynas Barieka were the Chattanooga players in the "Shake-Up" contest. Thurley won the contest by rapidly nodding her head up and down to edge out two fans for the title. Destinly Bramblett teamed up with a fan to beat out three other teams for the crown in the "Dizzy Money" contest.
For a family pack of tickets to Ruby Falls, fathers and sons along with players from the men's and women's teams, competed in the "Dress Like a Moc" relay. The young boys raced down the court, dressing in UTC practice gear, complete with shoes, along the way.
Fans will get their first glimpse of both teams against opponents in game situations on Thursday, Nov. 4 at the McKenzie Arena. The women will host Lee University, ranked fourth in the NAIA with the tip set for 5:30 p.m. at the McKenzie Arena.
"We've got a lot of holes to fill," Moore said. "No doubt this is going to be a challenge that we haven't faced in quite some time. But that's what this is all about. Working hard and getting better and seeing what you can do and being the best you can be."
The Mocs will host Tennessee Wesleyan following the women's game at approximately 8 p.m.
"I think what you're going to see with this team is two things," Shulman said. "I think you'll see today, that, one, they are athletic and two, they actually like each other. They are playing well together and moving the ball in a very unselfish way. They are a fun group to coach so far."
Tennessee Heritage...National Recognition. Locally owned and operated, Praters Hardwood Flooring is proud to support Chattanooga Mocs' basketball and the thousands of homeowner's in East Tennessee and North Georgia that have chosen Prater's hardwood flooring for their homes. From the Final Four to your floor, you can count on our commitment to quality and excellence. Add warmth and beauty to your home with hardwood flooring from Praters Hardwood Flooring. Choose the best...Choose Praters.
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CHATTANOOGA ATHLETICS MISSION
The mission of the Chattanooga athletics department is to guide, encourage and support our Student-Athletes in their quest for comprehensive excellence - academically, athletically and socially. Above all else, we prepare Students for productive and meaningful lives. With more than half of its student-athletes earning Athletic Director Honor Roll status, several SoCon Championships each year and countless community service hours, Chattanooga remains true to its mission.