No. 20 Tennessee (4-0) took care of the Hornets of Alabama State on Wednesday night 76-41. That game, likely against one of the four or five weakest opponents on our schedule, was a good tune up leading into a pretty solid stretch of contests. This stretch kicks off with one of the Vols’ many in-state “little brothers”, the Mocs of Chattanooga. Many people have circled this game as one on the schedule that could end up being much closer than one would naturally assume. Let’s see if we can find out why!
The School Down I-75
School: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Mascot: the Mocs
Conference: Southern Conference (SoCon)
Coach: Lamont Paris (3rd Season)
2018-2019 Record: 12-20 (7-11 SoCon)
Notable Alumnus: UTC was once home to one of the greatest Wide Receivers of all time, Terrell Owens. T.O. was a multi-sport athlete for the UTC Moccasins [named for Moccasin Bend] (basketball, football, and track) and actually participated in the 1995 NCAA Tournament while setting every receiving mark in the school’s football record-book. After a number of stops in his 16 year playing career, most notably with the 49ers and Cowboys, T.O. was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.
Little Brother’s New Toys
UTC is currently sitting at 4-1 on the season, with their only loss coming against Eastern Kentucky in their season opener. While predicted by many to finish towards the bottom of the SoCon’s ranks, some new additions to the roster have provided some new life on the court in Gig City.
Matt Ryan (formerly of Notre Dame and Vanderbilt) is averaging 15.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Trey Doomes (from WVU), whom many thought would be the big incoming player for Coach Paris’ squad, is slowly coming into his own. Combine these new faces with Veteran Moc David Jean-Baptiste (16.4 points, 4.0 rebounds), and UTC has a pretty competent team. Look for Jean-Baptiste to make his presence known against the Vols. Matt Ryan will put up some solid numbers as well.
Our Guys’ Last Outing
The victory over Alabama State provided us Vol fans with a couple of reassuring observations. 1st, Josiah-Jordan James showed that he was starting to catch up with college basketball. He is no where near where he will be come Spring, but it looks like these early season games will be very beneficial to his progression. Secondly, Pons has another game that highlighted his new confidence and versatility. I for one am going to stop being surprised when he has these games and start to expect them.
Another thing I am intrigued by is Olivier Nkamhoua. Again, the vast difference in the levels of talent that comprise each roster cannot be ignored, but his play Wednesday was definitely a bright spot. With John Fulkerson continuing to thus far have a career-year and Pons’ athleticism allowing him to function as a sort of “utility” player, an additional, solid third man to the front-court rotation would pay dividends for the Vols.
Final prediction/The goodbye
Stop me if you’ve heard me say this before, but I am sticking with my pre-season prediction. I think UTC does have some talent on their roster, but I just don’t think they have the horses to run with the Vols. To me, Tennessee should always beat the system and other in-state institutions easily. 68-52 Vols is my final call.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article. Tennessee is looking to start 5-0 after getting some big news on the recruiting trail this week, and things are looking a little brighter for the Vols basketball program every day.
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