BOONE, N.C.—An adventurous week has ended.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga lost 78-68 in Southern Conference men's basketball at Appalachian State on Saturday night with the student section chanting, "Get your flu shot!"
The loss came 24 hours after the Mocs lost 69-68 at Western Carolina on a last-second foul. That was followed by a three-hour bus trip and a false fire alarm at 5 a.m.
"It's unrealistic, what we had to do," UTC coach John Shulman said. "We put everything we had on the line last night. I couldn't have been more proud. We played [essentially] without three starters and should have beat Western.
"Last night was fun. Tonight wasn't."
UTC had to play back-to-back games because only five players would have been available—because of the flu—if the Mocs had to play Thursday at Western as originally scheduled. That game was switched to Monday, then back to Friday.
"It's been tough, it's been unusual, and when things become unusual it becomes uncomfortable and it's hard to have success," said one of the flu victims, Mocs point guard Keegan Bell, who had seven points and seven assists Saturday. "We don't want to make excuses. We should have handled it better."
Mountaineers guard Omar Carter led all players with 22 points, including 12 in a row as ASU pulled away in the second half, and Donald Sims added 19.
Ricky Taylor scored 21 to lead the Mocs, whose lead in the SoCon's North Division slipped to a half-game over Western Carolina.
"Playing at Western and at Appalachian is tough enough," Shulman said. "How we tried to pull it off is more difficult. But we'll leave here in first place."
And that's how a tumultuous time period concluded.
"This was one wild week," said DeAntre Jefferson, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds. "One of the wildest 48 hours I've ever been a part of."
UTC scored against ASU's pressure early for a 13-7 lead. The Mountaineers tied it at 15 about nine minutes into the game, and it remained a one-possession difference for the rest of the first half.
Taylor had 11 of his points before the break on three 3-pointers, which stopped the Mountaineers from pressing full-court, and Troy Cage had an efficient half with six points in six minutes. UTC led 32-31 at halftime and had been11-0 when leading at the break this season.
"We needed to be up more than one at half," Shulman said. "We had to be up eight, nine or 10. We didn't reward our efforts. We didn't finish around the basket."
The teams were tied at 45. Then ASU reeled off 12 straight points, including a five-point possession after officials called Jeremy Saffore for an intentional foul.
Carter's 12 consecutive points in a 21-5 run put the Mountaineers up by 16 and in control with eight minutes to play.
"We came out, threw a haymaker and it landed," ASU coach Jason Capel said. "We're defending, we're trusting and we're playing together.
"You want to be playing your best basketball in February and March."
That could make the final two weeks of the regular season a different sort of exciting.
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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 ...
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