CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.--- Chris Early (Huntington, W. Va.) led a quartet of double-digit scorers with 23 points in a 75-59 Chattanooga win over Furman (20-8/12-5) under blackout conditions in McKenzie Arena. With the season-high crowd of 5,107 decked out almost entirely in black, along with the Mocs team, UTC improved to 15-14, 11-5 staying tied for first in the SoCon North Division.
Early's career-high 23 points was a game-high total along with his eight rebounds. Omar Wattad (Johnson City, Tenn.) and Keegan Bell (Hazel Green, Ala.) had 14 apiece, while Ricky Taylor (Brownsville, Tenn.) added 11.
Noah States led the Paladins with 20 of their 59 points, the fewest points scored by a Division I opponent this season against the Mocs. Amu Saaka chipped in 10 as the duo combined with Colin Reddick for a team-high five rebounds.
Chattanooga built upon its 12-point halftime lead to go up 17 early in the second half, 45-28, on an Early layup at 18:42. The Paladins answered with back-to-back three-pointers by Saaka and States to cut the UTC margin to 11, 45-34. But that's as close as Furman would get.
Up 49-38 at 13:25, the Mocs went on a quick 11-0 run behind three consecutive three-pointers, the last by Bell from way beyond the arc. UTC went up 22, 60-38, at 11:05 on two Early free throws. That lead grew to 23 points a possession later on a three-point play by DeAntre Jefferson (Bloomington, Ill.).
A three-pointer by Justin Dehm got the Paladins back to 17 down, 65-48, at 7:43, but the Mocs quickly dashed any comeback hopes. Chattanooga scored on three straight possessions including a coast-to-coast layup off a steal by Early to build the lead back to 23, 71-48, at 6:13.
The Mocs were impressive on both ends of the floor shooting 48.9 percent (22-45) from the field, 12 of 21 (57.1%) in the second stanza. Chattanooga made 10-19 (52.6%) from three-point range with the trio of Bell (4-5), Taylor (3-5) and Wattad (2-5) accounting for 9-15.
Defensively, UTC limited the Paladins to 38.6 percent (22-57) from the floor and 21.9 percent (7-32) from three-point range. Chattanooga also dominated the boards 39-26.
It was a 17-17 game at 13:09 in the first half when the Mocs took over. Back-to-back three-pointers by Bell capped an 18-5 run as UTC led by as many as 13, 35-22, at 3:17.
Two Wattad free throws at 2:28 got the lead back to 13 before Chattanooga settled for a 12-point cushion at the break, 38-26.
Rebounding and defense turned the first half fortunes around for the Mocs. Trailing 8-5 on the glass at the 12-minute media timeout, Chattanooga grabbed 18 of the half's last 20 boards.
UTC finishes up the home portion of its schedule on Wednesday as defending SoCon champ Wofford comes to town. Game time is at 7 p.m., and fans can access live audio and stats via MocsVision on GoMocs.com. The game will also broadcast on the Mocs Sports Network on ESPN 105.1 FM in the Chattanooga area with the "Voice of the Mocs" Jim Reynolds.
The Mocs will celebrate Senior Night honoring their four seniors prior to opening lineups. Tickets are available for as little as $4 using the TRADITION promo code on GoMocs.com. New UT System President Joe DiPietro will host a TRIBUTE event in honor of the Chattanooga faculty/staff in the McKenzie Arena Dance Studio prior to the game and all UTC faculty/staff will receive two tickets to the game.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.