published Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Mostly close ones in UTC Mocs' historic slide

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    Staff File Photo by Allison Kwesell/Chattanooga Times Free Press - UTC's head coach, John Shulman.

Coach John Shulman finished his radio interview after an 88-61 loss Saturday night at Davidson and took his time wandering back to the locker room.

He looked exhausted as he ran his fingers through his hair and looked up into the empty stands.

Losing takes a toll on players and coaches, especially when it's reached historic proportions.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's basketball losing streak has reached seven games. That's the longest for the Mocs in the Division I era, which began with the 1977-78 season.

"I'm going to throw away the Davidson game, and if you do that, we're two plays away from winning all six games," Shulman said Sunday. "The common thing to me is little plays. The rebound, the big shot, the big free throw -- we haven't made those plays.

"You have got to make plays. Even after Davidson, I don't think we're far off."

But the Mocs ( 9-16, 3-9) are in the cellar of the Southern Conference North Division.

Here's a look at how they sunk to that spot over the last seven games.

Jan. 14 at Samford 81-71

Facing Samford in basketball is like playing a triple-option team in football. The Mocs could not slow the Bulldogs' Princeton-style offense and dropped to 3-3 in the SoCon. It seemed like a one-game hiccup and not the precursor of an ongoing three-week tailspin.

Jan. 19 at UNCG 81-72

They were two teams headed in opposite directions. UNC Greensboro -- with Wes Miller, the youngest Division I coach in America -- won its third straight game on what became a six-game winning streak, while this was the second loss in UTC's streak. UNCG's Derrell Armstrong made five 3s against the Mocs after entering the game with five made all season.

Jan. 21 at Elon 88-87

The Mocs scored more points in this game than against any other Division I competition on their schedule, but they couldn't grab a lead bigger than one point in the second half. Keegan Bell missed a 3-pointer at the end that would have tied it. Ricky Taylor put in the miss at the buzzer, resulting in the first of three last-second losses.

Jan. 26 Davidson 64-63

UTC lost for the second straight game by one point on the final possession. And starting power forward Jahmal Burroughs pulled his hamstring and reserve power forward Zaccheus Mason aggravated a bone bruise in his right knee. They haven't played since.

Jan. 28 Georgia Southern 75-72

The streak seemed to be over when the Mocs led by 16 points with 12 minutes to play, but the Eagles rallied and won on a last-second 3-pointer by Jelani Hewitt. So the streak continued in the first game with freshman wing Lance Stokes starting in the post.

Feb. 2 at Western Carolina 82-76

The Catamounts and Mocs -- who shared the North Division crown last season -- entered this game tied for last place. WCU moved up to fifth and left UTC in sixth place after hitting 12 first-half 3-pointers. UTC twice pulled within four points in the final three minutes.

Feb. 4 at Davidson 88-61

The Wildcats went on an 11-0 run early in the first half and led by at least 10 points for the final 34 minutes of the game and by at least 17 points for the entire second half. Even casual fans could see this blowout -- or at least the loss -- coming as the Mocs were running on fumes and the Wildcats were rolling.

about David Uchiyama...

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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