published Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

UTC Mocs recruiting students to attend Elon game at McKenzie Arena

GOLD RUSH OFFER

UTC is offering a special “Gold Rush” ticket for Thursday’s game against Elon.

A lower-level ticket can be bought for $20, and that ticket will be good for the same seat for as long as the Mocs continue winning home games. Single-game tickets for those seats start at $10.

The UTC men’s team has six home games remaining this season.

The Gold Rush offer lasts until Thursday at 5 p.m. This promotion and other tickets can be purchased at the UTC ticket office at McKenzie Arena, from a link at www.GoMocs.com or by calling 423-266-6627.

Source: UTC Athletics

  • photo
    UTC guard Gee McGhee (12) directs teammates on the court during the Wofford versus UTC game in Chattanooga.
    Photo by Erin O. Smith.
    enlarge photo

Sophomore guard Gee McGhee loves to smile and talk, and he'll do both with just about anybody.

Those skills make him a good ambassador for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team to fellow students he sees in class and across campus.

This week, McGhee, his teammates, the coaching staff and athletic department employees are attempting to get 5,000 fans to McKenzie Arena for the Mocs' Southern Conference game Thursday night against Elon.

"I interact with all people," McGhee said Monday. "I know how to interact with people and have fun."

One thing he will use this week is writing on a corner of the whiteboard in classrooms -- or the middle space if it's open -- and remind fellow students about Thursday's game and the fact they get in free with their student IDs.

Teammate Casey Jones said he'll ask permission before writing on a classroom board.

"To let them know that we're playing that day," Jones said. "We also wear 'Game Day' stickers and let people know it's game day."

UTC (12-8, 6-0) is in first place and Elon's Phoenix (10-9, 3-1) were the preseason pick to finish first. The Mocs are on an eight-game win streak, the program's longest since the 1996-97 year that ended in the NCAA tournament Sweet 16.

"As the streak continues, I think people should be excited and cheer us," Jones said. "Each game should be bigger and bigger."

The Mocs, with first-year coach Will Wade, are the surprise of the SoCon so far. They were selected to finish seventh in a preseason poll of the coaches.

Instead of muddling through the first of 16 games as expected, UTC has toppled four teams once and Wofford twice, including a convincing 71-57 win at Spartanburg, S.C., on Saturday.

"We knew that Will and his staff would do a really good job," athletic director David Blackburn said. "But to say that they would be sitting here with eight straight and 6-0 in the league, I don't think anybody would have anticipated that this early. It's a marathon and not a sprint, and I know we have a long way to improve."

Interest and ticket sales are up, which pleases Wade and Blackburn.

UTC has averaged 3,286 fans per men's home game, which is second in the SoCon only behind Davidson's 3,676. The average this year includes three games against non-Division I teams but still considerably tops last year's average announced attendance of 2,788 per home game.

"I've known that if you win, they will come," Blackburn said. "People love a winner. I've enjoyed seeing the uptick in season-ticket sales. I'm interested to see if our students will respond. Hopefully, as the semester settles in and they see the success, they'll come out more."

Getting the students to the game is where McGee, Jones and Wade come in to play. Wade said he and a few members of the team -- and/or the staff -- will have lunch at the University Center today and Wednesday to interact with students. There will also be interaction with students living in dorms because, as Wade said, they all live pitching-wedge distance away from the arena.

"I haven't seen it, but my feeling is that if we get 5,000 people here and fill the lower bowl, it would be a big-time atmosphere in here," Wade said. "It will be loud and a very tough place to play, which is what we want.

"I want our guys to experience that."

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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