NCAA Basketball

College Basketball: Chattanooga Mocs vs. Louisville Cardinals

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Chattanooga Mocs @ Louisville Cardinals
KFC Yum! Center – Louisville, KY
Monday November 22, 2010
Time: 7:07 pm EST
T.V.: Dave Weekley, play-by-play; Bob Valvano, analyst.
Radio: WHAS 840 AM Paul Rogers, play-by-play; Doug Ormay, analyst.
Series History: UofL trails 4-5 (4-3 in Louisville, 0-2 in Chattanooga)
Officials: Brian O’Connell, Gary Prager, Lamar Simpson

Game Two of Four for the Cardinals in the Global Sports Shootout at the KFC YUM! Center will see the Mocs out of Chattanooga roll into Louisville.

The first thing we will look at for this contest is the uber important question: What’s a Moc? According to Louisville’s game notes, since 1996 the answer to that question is a shortened term for “mockingbird,” the state bird of Tennessee. UTC’s mascot, Scrappy, is an oversized mockingbird dressed as a railroad engineer to celebrate Chattanooga’s railroad heritage. But before 1996, “Moc” was short for “moccasin,” with a moccasin snake serving as the mascot in the 1920s, an actual shoe doing the trick in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and tribesman Chief Moccanooga patrolling the sidelines until the name change in 1996.

Rick Pitino’s Cardinals had to grind out a 62-45 win over Jackson State on Saturday, a win with which Pitino was not pleased. Louisville allowed the Tigers to pull within 39-35 before ending the game on a 23-10 run. If there were any positives to take away from the win, the Cards did hold Jackson State to just 19 percent shooting for the game.

Chattanooga is coming off two close wins over Kennesaw State and Marshall. They lost their first two contests of the season, by 20 at (23) Tennessee and a three point defeat at the hands of Austin Peay.

Chattanooga is down one scholarship and is playing under a two year probation due to improper text messaging and phone calls made by seventh year head coach John Shulman.

Still, the Mocs are an experienced bunch, who if Louisville doesn’t come prepared could easily pull off the upset. Chattanooga’s roster shows nine juniors and seniors, many of which were key cogs on last year’s team, and the 2009 squad that fell to number one seed Connecticut in the NCAA Tournament.

Vanderbilt transfer and junior point guard Keegan Bell will be the man running the show for the Mocs. He is averaging 9.5ppg and 5.3apg through the first four games. Bell was a Top 25 guard (No. 115 overall) when recruited out of Hazel Green High School in Hazel Green, Alabama. Last season he set the fifth highest total in school history for a season with 159 assists, finishing second in the Southern conference with a 4.8apg average.

Bell’s backcourt mate, fellow junior and returning starter Ricky Taylor, averaged 11.4ppg in 24 starts last season. Taylor is a 6′ 5″ guard out of Brownsville, Tennessee.

Another transfer for the Mocs who should have a big impact on the court is 6′ 5″ junior guard/forward Omar Wattad. Wattad hit a huge three pointer in the Marshall game and is leading the team in scoring thus far with 10 points a game. After playing his first two years coming off the bench for Georgetown University, Wattad is versatile and will present matchup problems for most two guards.

Underneath the Mocs have size in the form of a 7′ 1″ senior center out of Nashville, Jeremy Saffore. Saffore hasn’t really shown much throughout his career, though he developed well over the course of last season, and his size alone could present problems for the Cards if their outside shots aren’t falling. Chattanooga also has 6’11″ sophomore Philip Jurick to man the paint, though he has yet to see action in his collegiate career.

6′ 8″ DeAntre Jefferson, a senior transfer from Vincennes College, leads the Mocs with 6.0 rebounds a game. He was fifth on the team in minutes played last season. Jefferson is a true power forward with a ton of strength and athleticism. He has shown flashes of greatness with a soft touch around the rim, the ability to handle the ball well for his size, and an excellent knack for rebounding and shot blocking.

Chattanooga doesn’t have a “go-to” guy, as they are not only experienced, but balanced. Their top six scorers average between 10 and 7.2 points per game. The Mocs starting five, on paper at least, is a coaches dream: Three potentially big-time scorers, an established rebounder and a great ball handler/distributor. If Shulman can get them all to gel, this could be another NCAA Tournament-bound season in Chattanooga.

After a sluggish start and a bit of a scare on Saturday, expect the Cards to come out ready to roll. All those in attendance should easily be able to cash in their ticket stub at a local Tumbleweed for some free cheese.

Louisville 87, Chattanooga 69

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