Tuesday, February 11, 2014

SoCon Monster Game of the Week: Western Carolina at Chattanooga

There are three teams currently with three SoCon losses. Chattanooga has just two SoCon losses.
They have gone 3-0 against two of those three teams with three losses. They have yet to play the third. In this one, Chattanooga will host Western Carolina. Western Carolina has played four SoCon road games, going 2-2, being outscored by an average of 1.5 despite beating The Citadel by 18 points. Chattanooga has played five SoCon home games and has gone 5-0, outscoring their opponents by an average of 11.2 points per game.

Western Carolina is desperately trying to get the SoCon bye. They are leading for the final bye by two and a half games. The Mocs are trying to hold onto the two or three seed, which is critical. This game is hugely important to both teams as they try to achieve their seeding goalsin the SoCon Tournament.

Western Carolina is lead by Trey Sumler, one of the top players in the SoCon. Sumler is shooting almost 42% from three point range on the season. He is averaging 18.3 points per game to go along with 4.3 assists per game, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game. He is also shooting 43.8% from field goal range. Sumler is so talented. He gets to the free throw line a lot and shoots 77.9% from there.

Brandon Boggs and James Sinclair are also big time three point shooters and score in double figures. Tom Tankelwicz has made the most threes of anyone on the team with 55 (two more than Sumler's 53). The leading rebounder is 6-8 Tawaski King. He's averaging 4.6 rebounds per game. He's only averaging seven points per game.

This is a team that scores 29.5% of their shots from three point range, the second most in the SoCon. They are the worst two point shooting team in the SoCon, at 45.7%. They also do an extraordinarily bad job getting to the line (ranking tenth in FT Rate in the SoCon) and ranking dead last in allowing the other team to get to the line. They are first in the conference in offensive rebounding.

Chattanooga has been struggling and Will Wade has promised changes in the lineup and in playing time based on practice this week. The changes will be interesting. Z Mason is averaging 17.7 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per game. He needs to step up his game. He is the emotional leader of the team and he has seemed a bit down in recent games. He needs to pick his head up and get this team back on track.

Rico White, Casey Jones and Gee McGhee are all capable of scoring in bunches. They all average in double figures on the year. Jones is shooting 56% from the floor and is averaging 12.0 points per game to go along with 5.9 rebounds. White is averaging 11.4 poitns per game and is the best three point shooter at 42.4%. McGhee is averaging 10.1 points per game to go along with a team high 2.9 assists per game. Martynas Bareika is averaging 9.8 points per game and is one of the most important players, because when he is hot shooting from three point range, this offense gets much tougher to defend.

The Mocs are the best in the SoCon at FT Rate and the best in the SoCon and allowing the other team to get to the line. They rank second in the conference in offensive rebounding. They also are the best in the conference at three point defense. They are the worst in the conference at shooting the ball.


This game is so critical to these teams chances of finishing second or third in the SoCon, and there is a huge difference between finishing second or third and finishing fourth or fifth. This game really matters to both teams. But the Catamounts have been struggling at times recently. Now they go on the road, a place where they have not been their best. The Mocs are unbeaten in SoCon play at home. Mason against King could be a very interesting match-up. But the bigger challenge for the Catamounts could be in controlling Jones. Look for an exciting game, but the Mocs pull away for a win in the end at home. Mocs 73, Catamounts 66.

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