The Chattanooga Mocs made it four in a row Monday night with an 80-70 victory at Middle Tennessee. It’s the first 4-0 start since going 5-0 in 1987-88.
“I thought the guys really competed against a really physically talented team. It was a good test for our guys. They made it hard to get catches…hard to run offense like we wanted. It forced us into some pretty aggressive things off the dribble. I just liked the fight I saw especially young guys like Jamaal (Walker) and Jaden (Frazier).”
David Jean-Baptiste tallied 20 points, his second straight 20-point effort. Malachi Smith recorded another double-double, his third, with 18 points and 13 rebounds, while Stefan Kenić matched his Saturday output of 17 points.
It was a see-saw affair with the Mocs down three, 62-59, with 9:47 remaining off Jo’Vontae Millner-Criss’ three. A familiar pattern came into play.
Chattanooga zoomed past their hosts with a 14-2 stretch that included stops on seven out of eight defensive possessions. Smith scored the first eight points giving his squad the lead for good on a three-point play at 8:21. Kenić book-ended two Jean-Baptiste free throws to make it a 73-64 contest with 4:13 left on the clock.
The Blue Raiders cut it to six late, but Smith and Jean-Baptiste slammed the door with back-to-back scores to extend the lead to 10 which became the final margin.
“Sometimes I think it’s good to face that adversity,” Smith shared about the midpoint of the second half. “Every game is not perfect. We’ve had good shooting nights and bad. It’s good for us to get the experience to getting those stops.
“You can’t control the shots falling, but you can control what you do defensively.”
The Mocs are midway through a brutal stretch of games including Saturday’s home win over Northern Kentucky. It continues at Bellarmine Wednesday before returning home to host North Georgia Saturday. Links for video, audio and live stats for each contest is located on the men’s basketball schedule page.