The Bucs are the only unbeaten team in the Southern Conference, each game putting their winning streak on the line and this time against UTC. The Bucs came into Saturday with a 20-4 record and 11 straight conference wins.
The Mocs, who were an NCAA tournament team just two years ago, have suffered from inexperience. The Mocs came into Saturday with an 8-16 record and last in the conference standings.
Center Peter Jurkin (Juba, South Sudan) opened the game up for the Bucs with a three-pointer to give the Bucs the early lead.
The first 11 minutes were even for both teams until the Bucs were able to get separation from the Mocs with six minutes remaining in the first half. The Bucs led 27-18 forcing the Mocs to take contested shots in the paint.
The Bucs took a 10-point lead with less than four minutes remaining when senior Desonta Bradford (Humboldt, Tennessee) made one of two free throws.
At the half, the Bucs led 35-24 after a Devontavius Payne (Carbondale, Illinois) three-pointer with four seconds remaining. For the Bucs, Bradford led the team in scoring with 10 points scoring efficiently making four out of six shots.
Jurkin was also a force for the Bucs scoring seven points and grabbing six rebounds.
The Bucs defense was a big factor in the first half only the Mocs to shoot 35 percent in the first half. The Bucs offense was efficient shooting 48 percent and 50 percent from three.
“I thought we came into this one focused and ready,” said head coach Steve Forbes.
In the second half, the Bucs three-point shooting hurt the Mocs early, jumping to a 19-point lead with less than 14 minutes remaining. The Bucs offense was too much for the Mocs to overcome with their inability to consistently score in the half court.
The Bucs won 81-61. claiming their 12th straight conference win. The Bucs finished with four players in double figures with Bradford leading the way with 22 points.
“Give Chattanooga credit, I really think they’ve improved since we played them earlier this year,” said Forbes.
The Bucs earned a vote in the AP top 25 for the first time since the 2003-04 season.