UTC's Lance Stokes (3) and Tennessee Temple's Aaron Walker (25) reach for a rebound Monday during the host Mocs' 88-53 win at McKenzie Arena.
Nobody requested a curtain call.
But the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga freshman class played its role as well as could be expected in an 88-53 drubbing of Tennessee Temple on Monday in the basketball Mocs' season debut.
They had highlights such as Farad Cobb setting a freshman record and lowlights such as missing the rim on 3-pointers. Most importantly, they now have one game of experience on the college level.
"I thought Farad got more comfortable just as this one game went on," UTC coach John Shulman said. "You wait until you see all these kids five or six games later. They were in a panic. Casey [Jones] was worried about pregame meal."
The Mocs scored 42 points in the paint, forced 35 turnovers and turned them into 44 points against the crosstown Crusaders (2-2).
"I was anxious and I was excited to play my first game," said Cobb, whose six steals were a school freshman record. "I didn't know what to expect.
"I go out there and I had a chance to make a layup in the first minute and I kind of slipped."
Slipping is the excuse for that miss. But the Mocs shot only 41 percent from the floor and 2-of-22 from the 3-point line. They made up for poor shooting by attempting 70 field goals and 41 free throws.
"Could last year's team go 2-for-22 from the 3-point line and win?" Shulman said. "No. I don't care who we were playing.
"Tonight, if we shoot it well, we win by 50."
Junior Zaccheus Mason led UTC with 16 points in 19 minutes. Senior Drazen Zlovaric scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 17 minutes.
"Keep hustling, play defense and rebound -- if we keep doing that, it will give us a chance against any team we face this year," Mason said. "The young guys are willing to learn and play and buy into what Coach is feeding us. They're picking up a lot of things."
Freshmen Gee McGhee and Casey Jones started for the Mocs. Every player in uniform played, and all but walk-on Alex Bran scored at least four points.
The Crusaders were led by 12 points from Mack Hampton and 11 from Weedlens Beauvil. Former Brainerd High star Corey Sanders started but did not score.
"I'm glad we went 2-for-22 and we win big," Shulman said. "If we didn't make shots, I didn't know if we could win. Now I know."
The Mocs, who will play at No. 7 Kansas on Thursday, opened in a full-court press they rarely used last season. They forced eight turnovers in the first 12 minutes and limited Temple to seven points in the first 10 minutes. It helped UTC build a 46-27 lead at halftime.
Shulman called off the pressure in the second half, yet UTC kept pulling away and led by as many as 39 points with two minutes to go.
"In the future," Cobb said, "I'll be better performing on both sides of the ball."
Then the curtain calls will come.
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
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 ...