Mocs men roll to four-game win streak, take down Citadel

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC Athletics) — The Chattanooga Mocs got double-doubles from Malachi Smith and KC Hankton to out-last The Citadel 70-66 in McKenzie Arena Saturday afternoon. The duo combined for 30 points and 21 boards to stave off the Bulldogs own combo of Hayden Brown and Derek Webster, Jr.’s 24 points and 25 rebounds.

The matchup kept a familiar tone. The Mocs raced out early leading by as many as 13 in the first half, then The Citadel clawed back. Brown’s three-point play with 17:16 to go gave the Bulldogs their first advantage. It reached five, 47-42, on a Fletcher Abee jumper. The hosts had enough.

Chattanooga sped off on a 14-0 run capped by Smith going coast-to-coast to flip it to a nine-point lead, 56-47. They scored on six straight possessions and again looked firmly in control stretching it to 11, 66-55, on a Darius Banks layup.

It was a slow and steady ride back for the Charleston brigade. Smith’s layup had the lead at eight, 68-60, with 1:55 on the clock. Kaiden Rice, the game’s top scorer with 22, scored in the midrange followed by a Webster layup inside a minute to narrow the gap to four. The Mocs closed those final seconds 2-5 at the free throw line but made defensive stops when needed to escape with the win.

“Our guys like drama, that’s for sure,” Coach Lamont Paris smiled after the game. “I thought we had some chances towards the end to have a finish that favored us that involved less drama. The guys did a phenomenal job defensively. I can’t say enough about that.

“We’ve been able to defend, and that gives you a chance to win.”

Banks joined Smith and Hankton in double figures with 12 adding three assists and two blocks. Seven Mocs scored six on more points contributing to the victory. Abee added 10 for the Bulldogs.

Today was the beginning a 3-game home stand. The contests come in rapid succession with ETSU in the Roundhouse on Monday night and Western Carolina Wednesday. FANS are also back for the whirlwind stretch of games with 1,000 being allowed in the Roundhouse.

Tickets are still available and can be purchased here or by calling (423) 266-MOCS (6627). Limited supply remains. Student tickets are free (as always) but reservation is required here. All tickets are general admission this season with social distancing required between seat blocks.

The games air on ESPN+ or over the airwaves in Chattanooga via WFLI 97.7 FM and 1070 AM. Links for video, audio and live stats for each contest is located on the men’s basketball schedule page.

RECORDS
Chattanooga 16-5/7-5 | The Citadel 11-8/4-8

QUOTABLE
“I feel really confident with this group. You always want your full complement of guys, but if this group right here is the group for us to ride onto the sunset with, I feel really good about where this team can get to. They are unselfish, we’ve got a level of toughness, we’ve got skill.” – Coach Lamont Paris

“We knew the last two games we won because of defense and they are the best offensive team in the conference, so they have a lot of good players. You have to stay alert and you can’t take a possession off. They hit some tough shots, and that’s going to happen, but I feel like for the most part we were solid.” – Malachi Smith

“I think it was just playing hard. Before the game, mentally, I wanted to bring a lot of energy. I was really locked in and just wanted to bring as much energy as I could. He’s [Hayden Brown] a really great player. Watching him go for 40 (in the first meeting) wasn’t fun to see. Mentally, I challenged myself to stay locked in and give my best effort on him.” – KC Hankton

Check out all we heard at the link above.

3 NOTES TO KNOW
– 13-0 this season, 28-4 over last two, when holding opponents below 70. The Bulldogs final tally of 66 was 18.7 points below their average.
– 12-4 in single-margin games this season, 6-1 when the margin is four or less.
– The 14-0 run in the second half is the third of 14 or longer: at Tennessee Tech (14-0) & Mercer (16-0).

Check out all the notables at the link above.

3 STATS TO KNOW
– +3 in turnover margin, but +7 in points off turnovers (11-4). +50 (97-47) in the stat over the last six games (5-1 over that span).
– Six blocked shots today are a season high and ties for the most in a game during under Lamont Paris (VMI-12/9/18).
– The Citadel’s 41.3 percent shooting today is a season low by a DI opponent. The eight threes made by the Bulldogs was half it’s output (16) in Charleston.

Take a deeper dive into the numbers at the link above.

SERIES
Meetings: 87th
Record: 68-19 (37-6 home)
SoCon Regular Season: 64-16 (34-6 home)

SOCON SCOREBOARD
at VMI 85, Samford 56
Western Carolina at Furman, 2 p.m.
UNCG at Mercer, 2 p.m.
Wofford at ETSU, 4 p.m.

NEXT 3 OPPONENTS
Feb. 15: ETSU, 7 p.m. | Current Record: 11-8/7-4 | Next Opp: at Chattanooga (Feb. 15)
Feb. 17: Western Carolina, 7 p.m. | Current Record: 9-11/2-9 | Next Opp: at Chattanooga (Feb. 17)
Feb. 20: at UNC Greensboro, 5 p.m. | Current Record: 14-6/9-3 | Next Opp: at VMI (Feb. 17)

Categories: College, Sports, Sports – Local Sports News, Sports – UTC Mocs