The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga defeated Samford 74-70 for the Mocs' first Southern Conference win of the basketball season Saturday night in Birmingham.
The Mocs (6-9, 1-1) were led by freshman guard Gee McGhee and junior forward Zaccheus Mason, who each scored 17 points. Freshman point guard Farad Cobb added 16.
The Bulldogs (3-12, 1-1) were led by 27 points from guard Raijon Kelly and 18 from forward Tim Williams.
Kelly missed a 3-pointer with less than six seconds left that would have given Samford the lead -- and probably the victory.
"It was a great challenge," Cobb said on the postgame UTC radio show. "It was a good road win for us.
"Kelly is good. He was hot. We had hands in his face, but he was knocking them down."
UTC burst to a 22-6 lead with a 15-0 run including two 3-pointers each from McGhee and Cobb. The Mocs started the game 11-of-12 from the floor with seven Samford turnovers in just over eight minutes.
Kelly responded with 14 points in less than four minutes to get the Bulldogs within 26-22 and forcing UTC coach John Shulman to call time out.
"He was making them like they're layups," Shulman said on the radio.
The Bulldogs continued their rally and trailed 39-38 at intermission. McGhee scored 13 points and Kelly had 17 before the break.
Samford took its first lead of the second half, 42-40, less than two minutes after the break on a bucket by Cook. Samford remained within a bucket or two until Cobb hit a jump shot to put UTC ahead 67-59 with 5:48 to play. That was the largest lead of the second half.
Samford inched back to have a chance at victory. Shulman called for time with seven ticks to go. Kelley received the inbound pass, from under the basket, on the left wing and took a shot at victory. He missed. UTC's Sam Watson scrambled for the rebound and passed ahead to Ronrico White, who sealed the game with two free throws.
"We came out and were unbelievable, and we looked like we were ready to play the Clippers -- not the Lakers, the Clippers," Shulman said on the radio. "We're not better than a lot of people."
Shulman said on his pregame radio segment that senior point guard Dontay Hampton would return to the rotation Thursday after missing the entire season to date with a torn ACL in his right knee suffered in July.
"I'm excited about him coming back," junior Martynas Bareika said on the postgame show. "I'll like having him back."
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