Mocs Notes: Mason steps up, Bell breaks record
Mocs turn to Mason in Early's absence
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- With Chris Early suspended indefinitely following last month's Twitter rant, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team is asking more of Zaccheus Mason.
The redshirt sophomore says he's ready to answer the call, starting with Wednesday's home date (12 p.m. ET) with NCCAA's Hiwassee at McKenzie Arena.
Mason transferred to UTC this summer after playing football for two years at Ole Miss. His transition was slow and frustrating when the Mocs opened camp, but is steadily gaining steam.
"The hardest thing to get back was just being in basketball shape," Mason said. "My first practice my legs were gone after the first ten minutes and it was a struggle."
Head coach John Shulman said Mason played at about two-percent of his ability for the first few days of camp. The 6-foot-5 forward said he's at more like 70-percent right now.
"The more games I play and the more practice I get, I keep getting more into the rhythm of things," Mason said.
That was evident last Saturday when Mason recorded eight points and eight rebounds in a loss at No. 3 Kentucky, by far his best output of the season.
"He's hungry and he wants to get there," Shulman said. "He's a quiet kid and a nice kid, but he's also got that hunger.
"Eight and eight against Kentucky is pretty good. Now let's see what he can do (vs. Hiwassee) Wednesday at noon."
Bell breaks UTC assist record
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Keegan Bell finally found something he couldn't share.
The Mocs' senior point guard dished out four assists in last week's loss at Kentucky, setting a new school record in the category. His 416 career assists in three years now ranks two better than previous record-holders Wes Moore (1996-99) and Tim Brooks (1992-93).
"A lot of people get recognition for scoring, so getting into the record books for giving other people shots is really neat and really fun," Bell said. "When I drive and kick it to somebody else, I feel like I'm scoring."
Bell currently leads the Southern Conference and ranks ninth nationally at 7.1 assists per game. He's also fourth on the team in scoring at 8.3 points per game.
"Trust me, he loves to shoot and he's a great shooter, but he's also got that flair for making the extra pass and the extra play," Shulman said.
Bell admitted he doesn't like standing alone atop UTC's all-time list. In fact, he said he'd rather share it because he felt bad breaking someone else's record to get there.
"It's just another assist," Bell said jokingly of his desire to share the spotlight. "But I know Wes and talk to him, and he's just a great guy. I guess if there was someone to beat, I know he's great about it and supportive, so I'm really fortunate."