ATHENS, Ga. (WRCB) - The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga made the final stop of a five-game, eleven-day road trip Monday night in Athens, and the Mocs looked the part of a road-weary team.
Nemi Djurisic scored 14 points, all in the first half, as host Georgia opened a double-digit lead in the opening minutes and never looked back in an 87-56 drubbing of UTC at Stegeman Coliseum.
The Mocs, who were coming off their first Division I win of the season against IUPUI last Friday, shot just 18-percent from the field (6-of-33) in the first half and finished at a season-low 29-percent for the game. The result was UTC's lowest scoring output of the season after entering the night as the SoCon's top-scoring team at 85.2 points per game.
"It's human nature to be a little intimidated, but you have to fight human nature," said head coach Will Wade. "We talked the last two days about finishing off two feet, and we went in there at guys and threw up a bunch of garbage. We had a plan, but we strayed from it.
"When it started slipping away from us, we settled for jump-shots and shot turnovers. We started their break, got them going and we couldn't set our defense. It was just one thing leading to another, and it snowballed on us."
Martynas Bareika and Eric Robertson came off the bench to combine for 27 points, with Bareika's 14 points leading the way. The Mocs' five starters combined for just 22 points on 7-for-33 shooting, including a scoreless night from freshman point guard Greg Pryer in 19 minutes.
"That isn't going to get it done," Wade said. "We got frustrated, and teams are good and know what they are doing. They are taking away some of their strengths and we're not as comfortable with our counters yet.
"We have to get comfortable with those over the next eight days before we play again."
The matchup was the first of a two-for-one deal that will bring the Bulldogs to McKenzie Arena next season. It was also the first meeting since Johnny Taylor, now a Chattanooga assistant, led the Mocs to an opening round NCAA Tournament win over Georgia in the program's historic 1997 Sweet 16 run.
It was apparent early, however, this would not be another magical night for the Mocs.
The Bulldogs (3-4) led 9-4 after four minutes when Djurisic came off the bench. The 6-foot-8 junior scored 12 points in five minutes as Georgia built a 27-13 lead with 10:45. Though the Bulldog offense cooled down from a torrid 70-percent shooting pace, Georgia outscored the Mocs 22-4 over the last 11 minutes to take a 47-17 halftime lead.
Georgia scored the first seven points of the second half to build a 54-17 lead with 17:08 remaining after Marcus Thornton hit one of two free throws. The Mocs then went on an 11-2 run, yet still trailed by 28.
"We aren't using youth or inexperience as an excuse or crutch," said junior forward Lance Stokes. "We feel like we put in the prep to be competitive and win night-in-and-night-out. Tonight we didn't do that.
"We just didn't follow the game thoroughly and didn't keep our heads."
Georgia shot 59 percent from the field, out-scored UTC 54-22 in the paint and owned a 51-38 rebounding edge. Juwan Parker added 11 points and Kenny Gaines chipped in 10 to join Djurisic in double figures.
Chattanooga sophomore swingman Casey Jones left the game midway through the first half after a tough collision and did not return. He's repeatedly provided a spark for the Mocs with his energy, but had just two free throws and was 0-for-2 from the floor in 13 minutes before his injury.
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