On Feb. 18, the ETSU men’s basketball team will travel to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to face the University of of Tennessee – Chattanooga Mocs.
The matchup features two teams currently in the top-three in the Southern Conference. The Bucs sit in second place in the SoCon standings with a 21-6 regular season record and 11-3 record in conference place.
UTC’s record going into Saturday’s game is 19-7 overall and 10-4 in conference play, tied for third place.
McKenzie Arena, the home of Mocs basketball, has a capacity of 10,928, and the Mocs have only lost there once this season.
“I think the atmosphere is going to be big like at Freedom Hall, so especially big there,” said Jermaine Long, a junior on the team. “We have a lot of friends, family and fans coming so it should be big.”
The two teams faced off at the end of January at Freedom Hall where the Bucs were able to win 76-71. They did so by holding the Mocs’ leading scorer Tre’ McLean to only six points. The Mocs’ guard averages 13.8 points per game, but senior T.J. Cromer’s (Albany, GA) focus and attention to detail only allowed five shot attempts in 36 minutes of play.
The key thing for the Bucs is that they know they didn’t play their best basketball during their last game against the Mocs. T.J. Cromer was not at his best for the game, scoring eight points on three for 12 shooting. Look for him to come out aggressive but more efficient during the game on Feb. 18.
For the Bucs, the rest of their starters were great offensively. The team was led by junior Desonta Bradford (Humboldt, TN), who scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half.
No one was as big as a factor in that second half as senior Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia), who completely changed the game with his physicality by scoring 15 points in the second half. His energy in the second half definitely could not go unnoticed.
Two players that have continued to improve as the season has gone are juniors Devontavius Payne (Carbondale, Ill.) and Jermaine Long (New Orleans), who could definitely have an impact in the game.
“We want to execute the game plan and stick to our game plan,” Payne said.
Going into the game, the Bucs feel they know what they need to improve on for a win.
“We just want to improve on ball reversal, executing our plays, and limiting our turnovers,” Long said.