published Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Mocs get ready for Dr Pepper Classic

  • photo
    UTC's Keegan Bell (3) moves the ball upcourt while being pursued by Savannah State's Cedric Smith (25) and Joshua Montgomery (15) in a game earlier this year. The Mocs defeated the Tigers 65-63 in McKenzie Arena.
    Photo by Robin Rudd /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team pulled double duty Tuesday following a four-day break for Christmas.

"I just hope that we come back in this Dr Pepper Classic and just kind of get going a little bit. We're 0-0, that's what our mindset is right now, and it's just a brand-new season."

-- UTC point guard Keegan Bell

UTC practiced in the morning and afternoon in order to shake off any rust and prepare for this week's Dr Pepper Classic at McKenzie Arena. After a difficult start to the season, the break likely did the Mocs (4-8) some good, point guard Keegan Bell said.

"We needed to get away, take a deep breath and come back," he said.

Mocs coach John Shulman said the break was just long enough for the players to lose a little mental and physical fitness -- hence the two-a-day.

"It's amazing, it takes you about two and a half months to get there and about three days to lose it," he said. "I'm trying to hurry up and get them back in shape and also have some legs ready for Thursday night."

The Mocs take on Longwood (4-8) on Thursday and will try to do something it has done only once all season -- win back to back games. UTC beat Warren Wilson and Savannah State consecutively in November and has won just two games since.

Last time out, on Dec. 21, the Mocs thumped Hiwassee 95-41. Bell said UTC hasn't been able to build any momentum all season and that's something the Mocs need to do heading into the heart of the Southern Conference schedule.

"I just hope that we come back in this Dr Pepper Classic and just kind of get going a little bit," Bell said. "We're 0-0, that's what our mindset is right now, and it's just a brand-new season; we have to look at it that way and I think we still have a chance to do some damage."

Shulman said he still hasn't decided the fate of suspended forward Chris Early, and a decision likely won't come until after the Mocs play at Tennessee on Jan. 2.

"Let's get through the Dr Pepper Classic, let's get through the Tennessee game and let's sit down and address it," Shulman said.

The Mocs were already a little thin at forward due to Early's absence, and they might be down one more player if Jahmal Burroughs can't play. Burroughs, who averages 13.2 minutes per game, suffered a thumb injury during the first of UTC's two practices Tuesday. His status for Thursday's game has not been determined.

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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