The Mocs and Eagles hook up for the second time in seventeen days. Seventeen. That's one more
point than the Eagles beat the Mocs by the first time they hooked up.
The Mocs have not won in three years at the SoCon Tournament. They will look to change that under Will Wade.
The Mocs did not compete or put in the effort necessary to win the first time these two played. That's what Coach Will Wade said following the game. That was the only game the Mocs lost at home in SoCon play. The Mocs lead 29-17 with about five minutes left in the first half and then it all fell apart.
Jelani Hewitt and Tre Bussey combined to score 49 points. They shot 55.9% from the floor and were 57.1% from three point range to go along with 100% shooting from the free throw line. There were four steals, six assists and six rebounds. The Eagles outrebounded the Mocs 37-30. The Eagles also shot 52.5% from the floor as a team. The Mocs are a bigger team than the Eagles, which has been unusual for the Mocs this year. Still, the Eagles outrebounded the Mocs in that game. That was one of the surest signs that the Mocs were being outhustled. The Eagles are a decent rebounding team considering their size, though.
Z Mason played well the first time, shooting 7 of 9 from the floor and scoring 21 points to go along with 7 rebounds. He and Greg Pryor were the only two Mocs in double figures. Pryor scored ten. Casey Jones scored 7 with five rebounds and four assists. Gee McGhee had seven points and Rico White scored eight.
So what can change in this one?
The biggest key in this one is if the Mocs play with energy necessary to compete. If they do that, they will likely be in this game all the way. Early in the game, the Mocs forced turnovers and were running. The Mocs were moving quickly, but were under control. Gee McGhee looked very good, Casey Jones looked good and Z Mason was playing great. Then, suddenly, it all went away. The Eagles stopped turning the ball over, started making shots, and were rolling. The Mocs will need to try to force turnovers and run. The Eagles deployed some half court pressure against Furman that caused them problems on Friday afternoon, and will probably do the same thing against Chattanooga on Saturday.
The Eagles will need their guards Hewiit and Bussey to continue their superb play. Marvin Baynham played well against Furman. So did Angel Matias. Those two inside players both need to play well against Chattanooga.
The two best quarterfinals are Western Carolina-Elon and this one. This one should be a very close game the entire way. Z Mason is going to be tough for the smaller Eagles to handle inside. I expect to see the Mocs, who have played with much more energy and enthusiasm in the three games since the Georgia Southern game despite losing one of them, play hard throughout this one. The Mocs were embarrassed at home and have been looking to get revenge for that performance. The problem is that the match-up may not be favorable. The Eagles guard play is good and that has been a problem throughout the year for the Mocs defensively. Can the Mocs beat the Eagles? Is it a match-up they can win? If it is, the Mocs will come up with the win in this one. They will bring the energy. If it is a match-up that is simply so bad for the Mocs that it is going to be a real challenge to win it, the Mocs will probably not win, but lose a close one. I'm not sure which one this falls under. I'm taking the Mocs....apprehensively. Mocs 78, Eagles 74.