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Front Page - Friday, August 9, 2019

UTC basketball teams announce 2019-20 slate

The schedule is never easy for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men’s and women’s basketball teams. Mocs head coaches Lamont Paris and Katie Burrows have announced their 2019-20 slates – and they’re loaded once again.

“You want to challenge yourself,” Paris says. “You have to give yourself a chance to win games, but you want to play good teams. There are four teams on there that not only went to the NCAA Tournament but also advanced. Those are big-time challenges.

“Playing tough games in the non-conference prepares you for the conference games.”

“We’re in for another competitive season of basketball,” Burrows says. “With return games to Louisville, North Carolina State and South Dakota State, it’s going to be a challenge – and we’re always up for a challenge.”

The men’s team will host 14 contests. The men’s home schedule will feature the return of Tennessee State to McKenzie Arena in the Nov. 9 home opener. The Mocs and Tigers have squared off on 33 occasions. The Mocs hold a 19-14 series advantage over TSU.

“It’s always good to have local teams play,” Paris says. “The biggest aspect is the atmosphere for the fans. It’s an easy trip for them. Regional opponents who have an identity with our fan base is important to us.”

Sun Belt members South Alabama (Nov. 15) and Troy (Dec. 15) will make their way to Gig City this season. The Trojans are part of an unusual in-season home-and-home non-conference series that includes a Nov. 12 matchup in Alabama.

“It’s done more often these days,” Paris says about the Troy series. “It’s an early prep for conference-style matchups. You play the first time and come back and have to make adjustments on both ends of the floor. Everyone wants to start at home. This way, you both get home games and there’s the added bonus of a conference-type preparation for the games.”

Chattanooga also makes trips to Eastern Kentucky (Nov. 5), Florida State (Nov. 20), Tennessee (Nov. 25), Virginia Tech (Dec. 11) and UNC Asheville (Dec. 21).

The Seminoles and Vols are part of the Emerald Coast Classic. The opening on-campus site matchups come before all eight teams involved descend on Niceville, Florida. The Mocs pod includes Alabama State, Chicago State and Jacksonville State.

“It’s a challenging schedule,” Paris continues. “We’ll have some high-quality opponents on the road in Tennessee, Florida State and Virginia Tech, along with like-sized schools. There are a lot of road tests early as well. It’ll be good for us.”

The 18-game Southern Conference schedule launches Dec. 3 with a trip to Western Carolina. It begins in earnest on Jan. 4 at Mercer. Four of the home events are in January with visits from Furman (Jan. 8), Samford (Jan. 11), Wofford (Jan. 15) and The Citadel (Jan. 22).

The five February fixtures feature visits from the Catamounts (Feb. 1), ETSU (Feb. 5), VMI (Feb. 12), Mercer (Feb. 22) and the season finale against UNCG (Feb. 29).

Women to face postseason contenders

Eight of the women’s team’s opponents advanced to the 2019 postseason. Five teams made it the NCAA Tournament and three played in the WNIT.

Louisville (Nov. 21) fell to UConn in the Elite Eight. The Cardinals tied Notre Dame for the ACC regular season title and lost to the Irish in the ACC tournament final. NC State (Dec. 19) placed third in the ACC and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 under former UTC head coach Wes Moore.

Chattanooga will travel to Brookings, South Dakota on Dec. 11 to take on South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits earned a No. 6 seed in the NCAA and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school and Summit League history. Belmont (Nov. 6) won the OVC and advanced to its second straight and third overall NCAA Tournament, falling to South Carolina in the opening round.

Cincinnati (Nov. 19) and Ohio (Dec. 29) each advanced to the Elite Eight of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament while Northern Colorado fell in the opening round.

Southern Conference foe Mercer earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament for a second straight year while Furman made its second appearance in the WNIT.

Fourteen chances to cheer on the women

The Mocs will host Lee University on Oct. 29 in an exhibition matchup for an early look at the 2019-20 squad. UTC will open home play against Hampton Nov. 9. The Mocs defeated the Pirates last season in Hampton.

The Boilermakers of Purdue will make their first appearance in Chattanooga to take on UTC. The two teams will have a first-ever meeting on Nov. 14.

“We’re excited to be bringing Purdue in for a game this season,” Burrows says. “We don’t often get to host a Big 10 opponent, so that will be a nice change for us.”

Austin Peay and the Mocs will meet for the 40th time in program history on Nov. 24 at the Roundhouse. There will be a second matchup for the Mocs and Northern Colorado on Nov. 27. Last year’s game in Greeley, Colorado went into overtime, with a last-second UTC shot in extra time falling short.

Troy returns to the Mocs slate for the first time since 2002 on Dec. 15. UTC is 3-1 against the Trojans and won each of the last three meetings. Ohio closes out the regular season non-conference slate for the Mocs on Dec. 29.

The women will have it tough on the road

Chattanooga’s road contests will put the Mocs to the test. UTC will open the season on the road at Belmont on Nov. 6. After a quick trip home, UTC will head north to Liberty on Nov. 11. The Mocs will have a two-game swing beginning in Cincinnati on Nov. 19 and a journey across the border to Louisville two days later.

Following a two-game home stand, the Mocs will open December at Eastern Kentucky on the first. Dec. 8 the Mocs will face UT Martin, and on Dec. 11, UTC will battle South Dakota State.

After hosting former head coach Wes Moore and NC State last season, the Mocs will travel to the newly renovated Reynolds Coliseum to face the Wolfpack in the final road trip of the non-conference slate on Dec. 19.

Women’s Southern Conference schedule

The Mocs will start the SoCon season on the road at Western Carolina on Jan. 9 and then head to UNCG two days later. At home the following weekend, UTC will host Wofford on Jan. 16 and Furman on the 18th.

A three-game road trip will begin at Samford on Jan. 23, then it’s over to Mercer on Jan. 25. East Tennessee State will open the next month on Feb. 1 at Brooks Gym in Johnson City.

The Spartans will come to McKenzie Arena on Feb. 6 followed by Western Carolina on the eighth. UTC will be at Furman (Feb. 13) and Wofford (Feb. 15) the next weekend and then host three for the season finale.

Mercer begins the show at the Roundhouse on Feb. 20 followed by Samford on Feb. 22. The Mocs will close out the regular season against East Tennessee State on Leap Day, Feb. 29.

Women’s coaching staff

Katie Burrows is tackling her second season at the helm of her alma mater. She led UTC to four straight SoCon titles and appearances in the NCAA Tournament. She spent eight seasons on the bench as an assistant for Wes Moore and Jim Foster.

The assistant coaching staff remains intact with Debbie Black, Brittany Johnson and Jonathan Goldberg on the bench.

Returning, new players

All-Conference performer Lakelyn Bouldin will begin her senior campaign alongside redshirt NaKeia Burks. Joining them will be juniors Bria Dial and Liz Wood. SoCon Freshman of the Year Eboni Williams will be joined by fellow sophomores Morgan Hill, Abbey Cornelius and Pare Pene.

Freshman Dena Jarrells was the Mocs’ lone signee in the early period last fall. Several transfers made their way onto UTC roster this season. Burrows added Brooke Hampel from UMKC, Kallie Searcy from Western Kentucky and Ruona Uwusiaba, who played one season with UCF.