The Mocs forgot to buy a cake.
"Maybe we should have done that," sophomore point guard Keegan Bell said. "That would have been good."
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team was able to celebrate Monday night after they defeated UNC Greensboro 58-45 and earned coach John Shulman the 100th win of his career. He's 100-78 after the Southern Conference victory.
"We're very proud of Coach and very happy for Coach," Bell said. "On behalf of the team, we want to congratulate him."
Senior Ty Patterson led the Mocs (10-6, 2-1) with 14 points, Ricky Taylor scored 12 and Chris Early contributed a season-high 10 points off the bench.
"I don't know who's going to bring it," Shulman said. "Early had been dreadful in practice, but tonight he looked like the guy that was supposed to be at Oklahoma."
Playing their third game in five days, the Spartans (3-14, 2-2) had their lowest point total in a conference game since moving up to NCAA Division I for the 1993-94 season.
Brandon Evans scored 10 points for UNCG, which shot 25.8 percent from the floor and 20 percent from the 3-point line.
The Mocs trailed 26-20 at halftime following their lowest offensive half of the season. UTC had more rebounds (21) than they did points at the break. But there were plenty of rebounds to be had. The Mocs missed 19 shots in the first half, and UNCG missed 24.
"I think it's going to be a low-scoring affair today, boys," official Mike Wood joked along press row during a media timeout.
NCAA rules prevented officials from turning the second half into a "make it and take it" playground-style game to promote scoring.
"We weren't panicked, but we played about as poorly as we could have played," Shulman said. "We were down six. I thought we should have been down 18. For whatever reason, we stayed in it."
UTC scored the first 13 points of the second half and needed less than five minutes to do so. Ty Patterson buried a step-back 3 from the left wing for UTC's first lead of the game.
Patterson, the Mocs' lone senior, hit another 3-pointer, Ricky Taylor followed with another and suddenly the Spartans caught the cold-shooting bug, and the Mocs had a 21-2 run to start the second half. The run took less than eight minutes, and UNCG's only bucket during the stretch followed a fluke play in which the ball bounced off an official's foot.
Staff photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press UTC guard Josh Odem, 10, goes head-to-head with UNC Greensboro guard Brandon Evans, no. 22, on Monday night. UTC played UNC Greensboro at McKenzie Arena on Monday night.
"Coach always says that if I do something, the team is going to follow," Patterson said. "I tried to get us going and get some enthusiasm."
Once getting a 10-point lead, the Mocs maintained a double-digit advantage. Patterson helped keep control with a soaring dunk, Early chipped in a couple of buckets and Jefferson continued clearing the glass.
"They got their rhythm going in the second half," UNCG coach Mike Dement said. "Patterson went boom, boom, boom, boom and breaks it open."
Said Shulman: "If this were my first year, I would have gone in at halftime and blasted everybody. But that was not a blast job. That was calm and cool. I told the guys, 'Let's get one stop at a time and we'll be in good shape.'"
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...