Mocs Play for SoCon North Title at Samford Saturday

WHO: Head Coach John Shulman. A win today would earn the fourth SoCon North Division crown under Shulman in his seven seasons. The Mocs have won two SoCon Tournament titles in that span with two trips to the NCAA Tournament. They have won 15 or more games all seven seasons. He is the only coach in Chattanooga history to win 15 or more games every season of his tenure with more than two seasons under his belt.

WHAT: Chattanooga (15-15/11-6) at Samford (12-174-13)

WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 26, 5 p.m. (EST).

WHERE: Hanna Center (5,000) - Birmingham, Ala. Live audio and stats can be found on GoMocs.com via MocsVision, while the game broadcast can also be listened to on ESPN 105.1 FM in Chattanooga.

HOW: A The Mocs and Western Carolina are tied for first in the North with one game to play to decide the North Division title. It would be the eighth such championship for UTC and 28th overall (10 regular season/10 tournament). A tie in the standings would result in WCU receiving the No. 1 seed in the tournament based on tiebreakers (WCU swept App State, Mocs split).

QUOTABLE: "This is a big game, a huge game for us. Playing for a ring always is. There is no better motivation." - Head Coach John Shulman.

PROBABLE STARTERS (PPG, RPG unless otherwise noted): 1 - Keegan Bell (8.8 ppg, 5.8 apg), 2 - Ricky Taylor (13.0, 3.6), 3 - Omar Wattad (14.5, 3.7), 4 - Chris Early (9.6, 6.2), 5 - DeAntre Jefferson (8.3, 6.4).

NOTES:
• Chattanooga is 11-6 in league play, 8-1 at home and 3-5 on the road. Chattanooga is 7-2 against North Division opponents, 4-4 vs. the South.

• The Mocs closes the regular season with three games in six days. The regular season ends Saturday at Samford (5 p.m. EST).

• Chattanooga has wrapped up one of the North Division's two byes in the SoCon Tournament (Mar. 4-7) along with Western Carolina. No team has won the tournament in a 12-team format playing all four days. College of Charleston has sown up the No. 1 seed in the South. The winner of Wofford at Furman this Saturday will earn the final bye from the South.

• This is the 81st meeting between the two schools with Chattanooga leading 46-34. For more series notes, see page seven of the notes link above.

• The Southern Rail Rivalry Series, a competition between Chattanooga and Samford throughout the school year,continues on Saturday with the score knotted at 9-all. Each men's and women's basketball head-to-head regular season contest is worth two points.

• Chattanooga is 640-390 (.621) since moving to Division I (1977-78), 168-233 (.419) on the road. UTC is 346-190 (.646) in SoCon contests, 135-133 (.504) away.

• The Mocs are 11-1 in games where the score is within five points (leading or trailing) with five minutes left in the contest with wins over Kennesaw State (-1), Marshall (-2), Western Carolina (tied), at Elon (+3), at UNCG (+1), at The Citadel (+1), Samford (+3), College of Charleston (+2), home against UNCG (-3), home vs. Elon (+4) and Georgia Southern (+4). The lone loss was at home to Austin Peay (-4). UTC is 12-0 when leading with five to play regardless of the score differential.

• Chattanooga seems to prefer playing close games. The Mocs are 3-1 (.750) in one-point games and 5-2 (.714) in games decided by three points or less. UTC is 11-5 (.688) when the final margin is nine points or less.

• The Mocs lead the SoCon in two categories - Rebounding (38.6 rpg) and Defensive Rebounds Pct (73.8%). In league games only, UTC averages league-bests in 3pt made per game (8.8), Rebounding (38.2/gm) and Defensive Rebounds Pct. (74.7%). Individually, senior post DeAntre Jefferson (Bloomington, Ill.) leads in field goal percentage (65.7%).

LAST TIMES...The Mocs started 15-15 was 2008-09...16-15? Never. 15-16 2008-09...Chattanooga began SoCon play 11-6 was 2008-09. 12-6? 2007-08. 11-7? 2008-09.

• Chattanooga is 12-2 when holding opponents under 70 points, 3-12 otherwise.

• The Mocs have won three games this season when trailing at the half. The biggest first half comebacks are from 12 points behind College of Charleston and 10 down at Marshall and at Elon. Chattanooga has come back from second half deficits of seven at Kennesaw State, eight at Marshall, five at home against Appalachian State and five at Elon. UTC is 12-1 when leading at the half.

• Samford is 12-17 overall, 4-13 in the SoCon North. The Bulldogs are led by Jeffrey Merritt's 10.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Samford features a dangerous perimeter game shooting 35.4 percent from three-point range. Four Bulldogs make better than 40 percent of their three-point efforts led by John Peterson's 42.6 percent.

• The Mocs have won the battle of the boards in 18 of the last 24 games. That's after starting the season turning the trick just once in the first six.

PLAYER NOTES

Keegan Bell (Hazel Green, Ala.)
• 2nd in SoCon in assists per game (5.8) and in assist/turnover ratio (2.3). Those averages are 5.8 apg and 2.6 A/TO in league games only. He is tied for 9th in 3pt made per game (1.8).
• 16th nationally in assists and 33rd in A/TO ratio (thru 2/20).
• 3rd on the team in free throw pct (74.0). Team leader in steals with 25 and minutes played (34.1/gm).
• Scored 500th career point Monday vs. Furman. Now has 515 in UTC career.
• 17 assists shy of 350 with 333 which is 5th all-time (DI era) at UTC. Maurice Head (1984-87) is 4th with 340, while Casey Long (2004-07) is 3rd with 386. The record is 414 held by the duo of Tim Brooks (1992-93) and Wes Moore (1996-99).
• Has already surpassed his assist total from last season (159). His 174 this year is the tied for the 4th best total in the DI era with Tyrone Enoch (1990-91). He is six behind Ray Trowell's (2003-04) 180 in 2002-03. Brooks' 209 in 1992-93 is the school record.
• Made 100th career trey vs. Furman. 16th Moc to reach that total.
• Recorded five or more assists in 18 games (36 career).
• 22nd DI player to record 1,000 minutes in a season at UTC with 1,023. 1st since the trio of Stephen McDowell (1,177), Khalil Hartwell (1,029) and Nicchaeus Doaks (1,021) did so in 2008-09.
• 1st meeting with Samford: 9 pts, 9 ast, 3-10 FG, 1-5 3pt and 2-2 FT.

Chris Early (Huntington, W. Va.)
• Second on the squad with 181 rebounds, 6.2 per game. 6th in the league on the boards.
• 3rd on the team in scoring averaging 9.6 ppg.
• SoCon averages: 10.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game shooting 48.3% FG and 70.6% FT. He has 15 total double figure scoring games this season.
• 2 20-pt efforts including a career-high 23 points in Monday's win over Furman.
• 1st meeting vs. Samford: 17 pts, 8 reb, 4-10 FG, 3-6 3pt & 6-6 FT.

DeAntre Jefferson (Bloomington, Ill.)
• Leads Mocs in reb with 193, 6.4/gm. Four double-digit games on the boards.
• Leads SoCon in FG pct. (65.7%) and is 2nd in rebounding.
• Shooting 68.4% (65-95) from the field since the start of December.
• Last game w/Samford: 0 pts, 3 reb, 17 min played.

Ricky Taylor (Brownsville, Tenn.)
• 14th in SoCon scoring averaging 13.0 ppg.
• Leads team in FTM (89).
• Mocs' active career scoring leader with 810 points.
• Topped 100-mark in career 3-pointers made (15th Mocs to do so) in the loss at App State and 800 points in win over Furman.
• Scored in double digits 20 times (tying Wattad for team lead), 43 in his career.
• Scored 20 or more three times this year, nine times in his career, including career-best 41 points in double overtime win over UNC Greensboro (1/27).
• Averaging 14.9 points per game over last 19 raising average from 9.5 to 13.0 ppg.
• SoCon games only averages of 14.1 points and 4.2 boards per game.
• 1st game against Samford: 16 pts, 11 reb (1st career double-double), 4-13 FG, 2-7 3pt, 6-7 FT.

Omar Wattad (Johnson City, Tenn.)
• Leads team in scoring at 14.5 ppg. That ranks 10th in the SoCon. Is 2nd in the conference in 3pt made per game (2.8) and 14th in the league in FT% (76.9).
• 14th nationally in treys made per game and 58th in 3pt pct. (37.1%) - thru 2/20.
• In SoCon games only, averages 15.5 pts and 3.6 reb per contest while shooting 40.9 percent (54-132) from 3pt range making 3.2 per game.
• Scored in double digits a team-best tying 20 times including seven 20-pt games (one 30).
• Made three or more threes 15 times this season.
• Also leads team in FGM (135), 3ptM (85), 3pt% (37.1) and FT% (76.9).

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.

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