Gee McGhee has one simple Christmas wish: a win.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga freshman basketball player can help the Mocs earn that wish by dispatching little Reinhardt University today at noon in what has become a UTC tradition.
"I just want a win," McGhee said. "That's all I need in my life. I love W's. The team loves W's."
UTC will play a non-Division I opponent at noon on a weekday before Christmas for the third straight year. The Mocs beat Reinhardt 107-47 two years ago and downed Hiwassee 95-41 last year before heading into Christmas break.
Playing these games at noon is a spinoff of the Lookouts' businessman's specials, but another purpose is to allow players to head home at a reasonable hour -- and in a good mood.
"It's important that we leave happy and hugging," said UTC coach John Shulman, who noted that College of Charleston lost last week to Anderson (S.C.) University. "Just because you schedule a non-D1 doesn't mean you'll win. With a young team, you can't take anything for granted."
A Coke, a popcorn, a hot dog and a lower-level ticket can all be purchased with a $10 bill.
"People have to eat lunch somewhere," Shulman said. "Why not come here and watch the game?"
McGhee and Casey Jones will have the longest postgame drives. Florida-based players Lance Stokes and Farad Cobb will fly home.
"If I leave at 3, then I'll be home at 10 or 11 o'clock for sure," said McGhee, who will drive to Baton Rouge, La., after the game. "Everybody will be up, so I text everybody and tell them I'm home. It's a reasonable time.
"I really thank Coach Shulman for setting up this game at noon."
Knoxville players Sam Watson, Drew Baker and Ronrico White may make it home before sundown and in time for a family dinner.
"It's cool that we get to see our families just a little earlier," White said. "It's safer for those other guys to be driving early at night than early in the morning."
So long as it's a happy-and-hugging trip home.
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 ...