By: Calvin Smith — Staff Writer
After the Mocs dismantled UNCG last Thursday, there was no letdown as UTC topped Western Carolina 77-65 Saturday at McKenzie Arena. Casey Jones, New Orleans, La., and Justin Tuoyo, Fayetteville, Ga., led the charge by scoring 19 and 15 points, respectively. Johnathan Burroughs-Cook, Memphis, and Tre’ McLean, Charleston, SC., both chipped in 12 points as well.
In the first half the Mocs stretched their lead to 13 points but they closed the half up by only four. Then just four minutes into the second half, Western Carolina took the lead.
UTC’s struggles shooting 3-pointers glared early in the second half, when WCU took the lead.
Halfway through the second, the Mocs broke down WCU’s offense and went on an eight-point run. Behind two key steals and numerous big shots from Jones, the Mocs closed out strong for the win.
UTC head coach Matt McCall said perseverance and pushing through a rough shooting night were key to winning, “We didn’t get down, that’s the difference from the VMI game, nobody got selfish.”
Casey Jones Is Staying Alive
A fifth year senior, Jones is the old man on the block. After a devastating injury last year, Casey Jones is coming back to his old self in full form this year. Versus WCU Casey Jones, looked like he never missed a step. 19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and two steals from Casey was the driving force behind the Mocs’ win.
Jones said his mentality once the team got down pushed him and the team when they got down, “If we stay connected and keep playing hard, they’ll break before we do. That’s what kept us in the game.”
Mocs’ big man Justin Tuoyo dropped his 1,000th career point against the Catamounts. Tuoyo is the the 23rd Moc to reach the 1,000 point plateau.
Point guard Greg Pryor, Memphis, accomplished the same feat earlier this season against Vanderbilt.
Tuoyo was incredibly efficient offensively all night, he shot 83 percent from the field on 6 shots. Despite his 33 percent 3-point percentage this season and 26 percent in his career, Justin knocked down a rare 3-pointer against WCU.
The Mocs unleashed a full court press on WCU to force them into bad passes and poor ball protection. The Mocs’ pressure led to 19 Catamount turnovers and 14 steals for UTC.
Coach McCall said, “We threw a couple different presses at them, we had to keep them off. Pressing was a big key in the game.” The Mocs’ press is what wore down WCU offensively and defensively and allowed UTC to pull away in the final minutes.
UTC goes on the road twice next week, out to Furman on the 9th then to Wofford on the 11th. Both games will be on ESPN3 and 96.1 FM.
Contact Calvin at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @calvin_smith33