published Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Backcourt buddies boosted UTC Mocs' 86-80 win over Maine

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men’s basketball coach Will Wade.
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men’s basketball coach Will Wade.
Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  • photo
    Gee McGhee (12) of UTC dribbles past Killian Cato (23) of Maine during the basketball game between UTC and Maine at day two of the Dr. Pepper Classic at McKenzie Arena at UTC in Chattanooga.
    Photo by Maura Friedman.
    enlarge photo

Coach Will Wade has no plans to move shooting guard Gee McGhee to point guard.

He's had freshman Greg Pryor starting at that position all season and for the last five games has had junior Ronrico White come off the bench to run the show for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball Mocs.

But McGhee, a sophomore from Baton Rouge, La., became only the third Southern Conference player to have 10 or more assists in a game this season when he recorded a double-double with 17 points and 10 assists Monday night in the Mocs' 86-80 win over Maine for the Dr Pepper Classic championship.

McGhee joined Western Carolina guard Trey Sumler and Davidson guard Tyler Kalinoski as SoCon players with double-digit assists. He did so by penetrating Maine's defense -- mostly a 2-3 zone -- and then passing out to teammates who combined to go 9-of-19 from the 3-point line. Of McGhee's 10 assists, six resulted in 3-pointers for UTC.

"Gee played really well tonight," Wade said after the game. "His prep today was phenomenal."

The Mocs set a season high against Division I opponents with 20 assists Monday. They had 22 in a 119-56 win over Division III Covenant in the season opener.

Last season, no UTC player had more than six assists in a game, and the team high was 21 versus Furman on Valentine's Day.

"We did a really good job of penetrating," Wade said. "I told our guys we need to get it in the paint and attack the rim, and we did that to start the second half. Then they changed their defenses and we were able to kick it out.

"Our guys stepped up and hit them tonight."

UTC (6-8) made a season-high 11 3-pointers against the Black Bears (2-9), including a 5-for-5 night from White. He missed the first nine games after offseason hip surgery and needed three games to get in the flow and feel confident that his hip will not prevent developing a rhythm with teammates.

"I have to credit my teammates because they were penetrating and the defense was collapsing on them and they [Black Bears] were leaving me open," White said. "I try to come through in the clutch and make shots."

White hit two of his 3s on back-to-back possessions after Maine grabbed a one-point lead with 6:24 to play, and he hit another to put UTC ahead 80-75 with 1:17 to go.

"There's nothing wrong with me," White proclaimed after the win. "It's the best feeling. I'm painless. After a win like that, you have to be."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.

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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