Junior Martynas Bareika.
Courtesy: GoMocs.com
Basketball Preview: Mocs Host 24th Dr Pepper Classic

Season Stats | Schedule | Roster | Tickets (Home) | Grand Canyon | Maine | Middle Tennessee

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It’s back on the road for the Mocs as well as the opening of the conference ledger. It starts at Furman, January 4, and continues on to The Citadel on January 6.

- 24th Dr Pepper Classic. The annual holiday event began in 1990 with Chattanooga defeating San Francisco (92-79) and UC Irvine (88-68). The Mocs have won 15 of the 23 titles and played in 22 Championship games.

- Chattanooga has won four of the last five Dr Pepper Classics.

- The Mocs are 38-8 (.826) in the event, 22-1 (.957) in the opening round. The lone first round defeat came in 1997 to UNCG (78-70). The consolation game was a 70-68 win over UNC-Asheville.

- Chattanooga’s record vs. current WAC membership is 3-2: Utah Valley 2-0, UMKC 1-0, UT Pan American 0-1 and New Mexico State 0-1. UVU was runner-up to the Mocs in the last two Dr Pepper Classics.

- First meeting with Grand Canyon. Middle Tennessee and Maine have both competed in past classics. The Blue Raiders were here in 2003 dropping a 87-75 decision in the first round to Chattanooga before topping South Carolina State 86-76. Maine visited in 2005 losing 90-75 against the Mocs prior to a 72-64 win over Mercer.

- MTSU, 2013 NCAA Tournament At Large team, is 8-4 thus far, while the Black Bears check in at 1-9.

- Z. Mason missed the final two games before the holiday break with an injured toe. He is the Mocs leading scorer and rebounder. His last game, 41 points and 12 boards vs. Hiwassee, was the first 40 and 10 game on record at Chattanooga. Mason is listed as day-to-day entering the Dr Pepper Classic.

- Mason was the MVP of the 2012 Dr Pepper Classic with Ronrico White joining him on the all-tournament team.

- Martynas Bareika is the likely fill-in for Mason if he cannot start.

- Bareika tallied double digits in each of the last four games. He’s averaging 16.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per contest over that span. He posted new career highs of 29 points, seven FG made, 14 FG attempted, 12 FT made and 13 FT attempted at Northern Kentucky on December 15.

- Bareika is tied for 27th in the Southern Conference in scoring (10.8), 11th in FT percentage (76.9) and 12th in 3pt made per game (1.9).

- Mason leads the SoCon in blocks at 1.8 per game. He also ranks third in scoring (18.6), rebounding (7.5) and FG percentage (56.8).

- Behind Mason, the Mocs are second to Western Carolina (4.1) in the league in blocked shots (4.0). Casey Jones (7th, 0.9) and T.J. Williams (11th, 0.7) are also listed in the top 15.

- Mason has four 20+-point games this season, all coming in his last six contests (22.3 ppg).

- Mason is shooting 56.3 percent (9-16) from 3pt range over last four games, 64.9 percent (37-57) overall during that stretch.

- Mason is chasing a couple of career milestones. He currently has 802 points and 458 rebounds. He is on pace to become just the eighth Moc of the DI era to record 1,000 points and 500 boards.

- He is now in the top 15 in rebounding passing current student assistant Johnny Taylor (1996-97) who was 15th with 447. Mason is seven behind Darryl Ivery (1985-87) for 14th.

- Mason has 18 blocks this year which gives him 55 for his two-plus years on the hardwood, good for tied for ninth all-time at Chattanooga with Jeremy Saffore (2007-11) and two shy of eighth-place Stanford Strickland (1981-84).

- Eric Robertson (41.0) and Alex Bran (40.5) are ranked among the league 3pt shooting leaders in ninth and tied for 10th, respectively.

- Chattanooga leads the SoCon in steals (8.4).

- That the Mocs lead the conference in steals is not surprising. Three student-athletes rank among the league leaders: Greg Pryor and Gee McGhee are tied for third (1.5) and Lance Stokes tied for 10th (1.2).

- Pryor is also 14th in assists (3.3), fifth in FT% (80.6) and eighth in A/TO ratio (1.5). He’s registered one or fewer turnovers in seven of the 12 outings.

- McGhee is also 22nd in scoring (11.8), 15th in assists (3.1) and 10th in A/TO ratio (1.4).

- Jones is 11th in rebounding (5.5) and sixth in FG% (53.4).

- Head Coach Will Wade is 4-8 in his first season as a head coach. He is Chattanooga’s 18th head coach, seventh of the DI era.

- Wade is 3-1 at home, 0-6 away and 1-1 in neutral site contests.

- He is 0-0 vs. Grand Canyon, 0-0 vs. WAC teams.

- Wade is a 2005 graduate of Clemson. He has worked with current collegiate head coaches Larry Shyatt (Wyoming), Oliver Purnell (DePaul), Tommy Amaker (Harvard) and Shaka Smart (VCU) at Clemson, Harvard and VCU, respectively.

- Wade’s staff includes a former head coach, Wes Long (Queens, 2009-13), former Mocs standout Casey Long (2004-07) and Buffalo star Turner Battle. Casey Long was retained from the previous regime. He also welcomed back Mocs great Johnny Taylor (1996-97). Taylor, a Chattanooga native, led Chattanooga to the 1997 NCAA Sweet 16 before becoming the school’s first NBA first round draft selection (Orlando). Taylor completed a 15-year pro career and returned to the Scenic City to complete his degree in criminal justice.

- Grand Canyon is 5-6 on the season. It owns wins over Western New Mexico, Savannah State, Lamar, San Diego Christian and Vanguard. The losses are to Loyola Marymount, at San Diego, at Utah, at Northern Arizona, at Tulsa and at New Mexico.

- The Antelopes are in the WAC.

- Former NBA player Dan Majerle is in his first season as head coach at Grand Canyon which is in its first season of DI play.

- Demetrius Walker is the team’s leading scorer at 16.9 points per game. He is one of a quartet in double digits followed by Daniel Alexander (15.7), Killian Larson (14.7) and Jerome Garrison (11.9).

- Larson averages a double-double posting 11.4 rebounds per contest.

- Walker is a transfer from New Mexico after starting his career at Arizona State. He is a graduate student.

- Alexander recently became eligible after transferring from Texas A&M.

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