By Jake Moore, Staff Writer—
The Mocs Men’s Basketball opened the regular season with an 80-68 upset victory against the Charlotte 49ers after nearly losing their opening exhibition matchup against Lee over the weekend.
Early on in the first half, fouls were an issue for both the Mocs and Charlotte as both teams entered the bonus within 12 minutes of play. The offense, though, is what lead the Mocs to the locker room with a 13-point lead at the half.
Redshirt junior guard Jerry Johnson, Jr., Memphis, shot 4 for 4 from three point range during that stretch.
“When we got here for shoot-around, these goals reminded me when I played against North Carolina State,” Johnson explained. “The nets pump real well, it just reminded me of the time I played well against North Carolina State. I love these type of rims, this atmosphere, the crowd going crazy. It brings the best out of me.”
Johnson finished the night with 18 points, three assists and two steals on the night as the Mocs lead 41-28 at the half.
In the second, Charlotte began to become more aggressive and accurate from mid-range with a field goal percentage of just over 48 percent. However, the Mocs defense forced woes from behind the three-point line for the 49ers as Charlotte went 0-7 in the second half from deep.
Defense also was a factor tonight, as UAB transfer Thomas Smallwood, Bordeaux, France, recorded six rebounds and two blocks. However, Smallwood racked up five personal fouls on the night, leaving the game early than he should have.
“I need to learn from that and make sure I’m aware of the fouls,” Smallwood recalled. “I have to try and be smarter on the defensive end.”
The Mocs left Charlotte with a 80-68 victory over the 49ers.
“The biggest thing about this game is that there was so many learning opportunities,” Head coach Lamont Paris said. “just on situations, shot selections late in the game when they were making a run, just a bunch of things.”
Shooting was major factor for the Mocs victory Tuesday night as they shot for 52.4 percent from behind the three point line.
“It’s nice to have a lot of guys you feel like can make a shot,” Paris explained. “You have multiple guys that can also make a play. It’s nice to put a lot of shooters on the floor. Thomas did a good job stretching the floor and being able to shoot from the perimeter. It always helps when the ball is going in, so that was good. There was a lid on it around the basket in the first half.”
The Mocs host Eastern Kentucky for their home opener November 10 in McKenzie Arena.