ATHENS, Ga. — The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team took an 87-56 shot to the chin from Georgia on Monday night, but coach Will Wade saw a difference from the Mocs' 106-65 loss at UCLA eight nights earlier.
"I thought our effort was better tonight," Wade said. "We kept playing tonight."
A team that lost 40 games in the last two years has been blended with new coaches and seven new players on the roster, so a mindset makeover is still in progress.
The Mocs made only 13 turnovers Monday but shot poorly. They were 6-of-33 from the field in the first half, 19-of-64 for the game.
"We can't shoot ourselves in the foot. The game has to go a certain way for us to win," Wade said. "We can't let the game get away that early. At neither place [UCLA or UGA] could we settle in like we needed to.
"We need to attack the basket, and we were essentially shooting turnovers."
The Bulldogs (3-4) , who were led by 14 points from Nemanja Djurisic, never trailed and led by 11 points less than seven minutes into the game. Their 87 points are the most for the program in regulation since 2011, and the 31-point win is its largest since Dec. 21, 2010, and an 85-38 defeat of High Point.
"We played really well in the first half, especially defensively," Georgia coach Mark Fox said. "I thought that we came in with a good approach and a good plan and really executed it well in the first half."
The Mocs did not. They took jump shots early in possessions and missed at least 10 shots at the rim in the first half. Some deserved to go in; others were taken with the player out of control or looking to draw a foul that never materialized.
"They had taller players; they got a couple blocked shots," said the Mocs' Eric Robertson, who tied his season high with 13 points. "Those shots weren't falling tonight."
All of the misses prevented UTC (3-6) from setting its traps. Instead, the bigger Bulldogs grabbed the rebounds and took off.
"We jacked a couple shots and they got boards and attacked," said junior Martynas Bareika, who led UTC with 14 points, including 12 in the second half. "We gave up a couple buckets and we got down 15."
From there, as Bareika saw it, arose an old problem for a team that has played better with a lead than coming from behind in recent seasons.
"We got down 15 points and gave up -- not everybody, but some guys," he said. "Maybe we didn't think we could win."
"I don't think our guys quit," Wade said. "We had guys who didn't get as frustrated as others. This is what we've got this year.
"When we get down 15, [some guys] don't think you're going to win. I think they get down on themselves and get frustrated and they feel like they're resigned to their fate.
"We're the only ones who can turn it around, and we have to get to turning to shape that mindset and change that mindset."
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him 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 ...