Mocs open conference play with W vs. VMI

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC Athletics) — The Chattanooga Mocs used another inspired defensive performance, along with long-range shooting, to start Southern Conference action with an 83-65 win over VMI in McKenzie Arena. It’s the third win in a row for the Mocs along with the third straight contest keeping their opponent in the 60s.

Kevin Easley’s 26 points led four Chattanoogans in double figures adding eight rebounds. David Jean-Baptiste chipped in 18 points, six rebounds and five assists in an emergency start at the point, as Jerry Johnson, Jr., and Jonathan Scott joined them with 17 and 11, respectively.

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The Keydets were paced by Bubba Parham’s 13 points. The SoCon’s leading scorer was held nearly nine points below his season scoring average.

“It was a team effort on [Parham],” Jean-Baptiste shared after shadowing the talented scorer. “Within in their offense, he’s coming off a lot of ball screens and screening action. I counted on my teammates, and they were there for me to help stop the ball. It was definitely a team effort on him.

“It was just the coach’s confidence in me to lock down the team’s best player in there, and for that it gave me more confidence to defend him.”



Jean-Baptiste made his first start of the season with the freshman pair of Maurice Commander and Donovann Toatley unavailable. He nearly set new career highs across the stat sheet in a winning effort.

Chattanooga jumped out to a 14-point lead early in the second half with four consecutive 3pt by Scott, Easley, Jean-Baptiste and Johnson. The latter’s made it a 62-48 game with 16:15 to play. Enter the defense.

The Mocs made just one of their next 10 attempts, one-for-seven from beyond the arc, Who else but Jean-Baptiste ended the cold spurt? His three with 9:42 on the clock put the advantage at 15, 67-52, as the defense locked in and allowed just one made basket over seven minutes of clock time.

It just built from there. The largest lead of 20 came on a strong “and-1” from Easley with 4:00 remaining for a 78-58 margin before finishing 18 points clear when the final horn buzzed.

“It should give us a lot of confidence in a lot of different ways,” Coach Lamont Paris noted. “From a shooting standpoint and from an overall offensive productivity standpoint. It has to work wonders for your individual confidence as well, and we did things short-handed today.

“We did some good things defensively in the second half against a good individual player in Parham, so hopefully it does wonders with our confidence on both sides of the ball.”

The Mocs hit the road for three straight beginning Wednesday at Georgia State. That’s followed by trips to Ole Miss (Dec. 16) and UT Martin (Dec. 18) before completing the pre-holiday slate with a lunch date with Bryan. The businessperson special is a Noon start on Friday, Dec. 21. Tickets are available on GoMocs.com or by calling (423) 266-MOCS (6627).

RECORDS
Chattanooga 5-5/1-0 | VMI 5-6/0-1

SERIES
The Mocs lead the series 43-14…22-4 in Chattanooga…38-12 in SoCon regular season play.

3 NOTES TO KNOW
Check out the full complement of notes at the link above.
– Chattanooga played without both freshmen point guards…Maurice Commander, who is 2-0 as a starter, was out with a lower-body injury, while Donovann Toatley is still suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules…all eight eligible student-athletes played.
– It was the 18th career start for David Jean-Baptiste, the most in a Mocs uniform on the current roster…it was his first opening act of the 2018-19 season.
– Kevin Easley’s 26 point effort is the most by a freshman in nearly 39 years…Randy Henry tallied 26 in a 90-75 win over Davidson on Feb. 4, 1980.

3 STATS TO KNOW
Check out the full stats at the link above.
– Season-high 20 assists this afternoon…19.3 apg over 3-game win streak.
– Matched season best in 3pt made with 13 today making 38.2 percent…also had 13 in last weekend’s win over Tennessee Tech…26 of 63 (41.3%) over that span.
– Eight turnovers despite playing without a primary point guard…season-low against a DI opponent…had just seven in November’s win over Cumberland.

QUOTABLE
Check out all of what we heard at the quotes link above.
“We talked about showing him a lot of attention as a team. It’s really difficult guarding him with one guy. Dave [Jean-Baptiste] drew the assignment, and I thought he did a really good job. I personally challenged him in the locker room before the game about what this was going to be, what a big challenge it would be, and how much effort we needed from him. He did a really good job.” – Coach Lamont Paris on holding the SoCon’s leading scorer to more than eight points below his average.

“It’s nice to get off to a good start and good a home win in front of our fans. It’s always nice to get a win early on in the conference season. We don’t have another one for a while so it’s better to be undefeated for 20-some days that the other way around.” – Paris on starting SoCon play 1-0.

DRIVE FOR 25
The Mocs Club began its “Drive for 25” campaign recently. It aims to raise $25,000 in scholarship funds for UTC student-athletes to which an anonymous donor has generously agreed to match. There is also a “Drive for 25” raffle. For each gift at the below giving levels, donors will automatically be entered into drawing for the Mocs Club Raffle:
– $250 and above donors: Official UTC gear (2 winners)
– $500 and above donors: Signed Terrell Owens football (2 winners)
– $1,000 and above donors: 2 courtside seats to a mutually agreed upon home basketball game (2 winners)
– $2,500 and above donors: Official UTC Helmet (1 winner)
– $5,000 and above donors: Accompany the UTC Men’s Basketball team to one mutually agreed upon away game

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
Wednesday, Dec. 12: at Georgia State, 7 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 16: at Ole Miss, 6 p.m. (SEC Network)
Tuesday, Dec. 18: at UT Martin, 8:30 p.m.