PGA Tour golfer Ken Duke saw the dunk.
So did many of Drazen Zlovaric’s classmates at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Some saw it live.
But most people — in Chattanooga, in America and across the globe — saw it late Thursday night or Friday morning when Zlovaric’s one-hand slam over Lucas Troutman on the first play of Thursday’s game in McKenzie Arena made ESPN’s “Top 10 Plays of the Day” at No. 10.
“I walked into class and people were just smiling at me,” Zlovaric said Friday afternoon. “In the cafeteria, I heard, ‘What’s up, Top 10?’ It was exciting. Social networks, too, got a lot of response.”
It’s the highlight play of the year for UTC.
“Number 10,” as it’s being called by the Mocs, may not be their most meaningful play this season — when compared, for instance, to Dontay Hampton’s coast-to-coast layup to beat Appalachian State — but it brought many of the 2,606 in McKenzie Arena to their feet before they got settled in their seats, and it garnered national attention.
It set the tone for UTC’s 83-75 Southern Conference win over Elon, which snapped a Division I era school-record seven-game losing streak.
“It’s a great thing to see yourself on ‘SportsCenter’ and have everybody talk about it,” said Zlovaric, who finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. “I think this is where we turn around.”
The Mocs (10-16, 4-9) can create a winning streak by defeating UNC Greensboro (10-15, 8-5) tonight at 7:30.
UTC is billing it as a “black out” with free T-shirts and black pom-poms being handed out before each game — the Lady Mocs host College of Charleston at 5.
“They’ve won eight out of nine and we’ve won one out of two,” UTC coach John Shulman said. “We have the same challenges we’ve always had. It’s nice to have Jahmal [Burroughs] back, but we have to keep doing what we’re doing.
“The game plan is going to be pretty simple.”
Despite the buzz around Zlovaric’s few seconds in the sun, he and the other Mocs must put Thursday in their past. UNCG beat them 81-72 on Jan. 19 in the Greensboro Coliseum during a seven-game winning streak.
“I had my worst game of the season at Elon, and I was ready [Thursday] and I had special motivation,” Zlovaric said. “Coach called ‘Elbow’ and he told me to dunk it, and I did it. I thought he would foul me or knock me down, but I did it.”
And millions of people saw it.
Duke, who is good friends with Shulman, texted the coach late Thursday to congratulate him and Zlovaric. That was especially nice because Duke had the No. 1 play of the day with an eagle from the fairway in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The golfer also made the “Not Top 10” for his dancing effort after the eagle.
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 ...