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Saturday, August 24, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports

Pardon Me, Boys, It’s Utc Chattanooga’s Stout Defense Choo-Choos Illinois Home

By Paul Newberry Associated Press

Tennessee-Chattanooga thought it heard a celebration in the Illinois locker room before the game even started. So the Mocs decided to have a party of their own.

UTC, the 14th-seeded team in the NCAA Southeast Regional, held No. 6 Illinois to one basket in the final 10:09 and advanced to the round of 16 for the first time in school history with a 75-63 victory Sunday.

The Mocs (24-10) insisted that the Illinois players began chanting “Final Four, Final Four” in the locker room after 10th-seeded Providence upset Duke in the first game at Charlotte Coliseum, apparently in reference to having an easier match-up in the regional semifinals.

“They were two locker rooms away,” UTC coach Mack McCarthy said. “I’ve never heard anything like it. Our kids took offense to that.”

“It was like we weren’t even there,” added Willie Young, who led the Mocs with 15 points. “They thought we were going out there for a scrimmage game or something. We just wanted to come out there and show them what we were all about.”

Illinois (22-10) disputed the UTC version of events. Coach Lon Kruger said his players took the court right after the Providence victory, so they had no time to exult about the first game.

“I didn’t see anything or hear anything that showed a lack of respect,” Kruger said. “Nothing happened at that point. We were in the locker room and we came out and took the floor right after the game.”

Chris Gandy said the Mocs apparently heard a pre-game ritual in the Illinois locker room.

“We never said anything about the Final Four,” Gandy said. “We were just trying to get each other ready for the game. Jarrod Gee goes around the room and asks each player what he’s going to bring to the table and what we have to do to win. It’s nothing to disrespect the other team.

UTC is a team that craves respect. The school shortened its nickname from Moccasins in February and asked to be known simply as Chattanooga, apparently in a bid to establish its own identity.

“This kind of thing can obviously put us on the basketball map a little bit more,” McCarthy said. “I’m just pleased we were the ones who were able to do it. This is a good group.”

UTC upset third-seeded Georgia in the first round by beginning the game with a 15-0 run. Against the Fighting Illini (22-10), the Mocs finished off the game with a 20-4 spurt.

UTC became only the second No. 14 seed to reach the final 16, joining Cleveland State in 1986. On Friday night, the Mocs will meet 10th-seeded Providence in the regional semifinals at Birmingham, and one of the long-shot teams will get a chance to play for a spot in the Final Four next Sunday.

Illinois led by seven points in the second half before UTC took control. After Kiwane Garris hit a 17-foot jumper to even the score at 54 with 10:09 remaining, the Illini didn’t make another basket until Matt Heldman’s meaningless 3-pointer with 15 seconds to go.

Garris had a game-high 19 points but made only five of 14 shots from the field, and Illinois shot just 34.8 percent in the second half.

“We had some good shots. We just didn’t knock them down,” Garris said. “The team that’s hungrier over the last 10 minutes is usually the one that’s going to win. It looked like they wanted it more than we did.”

Mims had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Chattanooga, while Taylor added 12 points and Wes Moore 11.

Providence 98, Duke 87

Derrick Brown had a career-high 33 points to send the Friars into the Sweet 16.

“He gets that tunnel vision in his eyes and it doesn’t matter if the Russian Army is in front of him. He’s going to shoot. He wouldn’t be denied today,” Providence coach Pete Gillen said.

Brown, who made 12 of 16 field-goal attempts and had 10 rebounds, helped the Friars overcome foul trouble by all-Big East forward Austin Croshere.

No. 10 Providence (23-11) advanced to the round of 16 for the first time since the 1987 Friars made it to the Final Four.

No. 2 Duke (24-9) was seeking its eighth Final Four berth in 17 years under Krzyzewski. Instead, the Blue Devils failed to make the round of 16 for the fourth time in five years.

West

Utah 77, NC-Charlotte 58

At Tucson, Ariz., All-American Keith Van Horn had 27 points and eight rebounds, and Michael Doleac scored 18 as Utah’s quick big men wore down North Carolina Charlotte.

The win sent Utah (28-3), the No. 2 seed in the West, to its second straight final 16, while No. 7 Charlotte (22-9) went home with the memory of beating Georgetown to get past the first round for the first time in four tries since 1988.

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: SOUTHEAST REGIONAL At Civic Center, Birmingham, Ala. Friday Kansas (34-1) vs. Arizona (21-9) Providence (23-11) vs. UT-Chattanooga (24-10)

WEST REGIONAL At San Jose Arena, San Jose, Calif. Thursday Kentucky (32-4) vs.St. Joseph’s (26-6) Utah (28-3) vs. Stanford (22-7)

This sidebar appeared with the story: SOUTHEAST REGIONAL At Civic Center, Birmingham, Ala. Friday Kansas (34-1) vs. Arizona (21-9) Providence (23-11) vs. UT-Chattanooga (24-10)

WEST REGIONAL At San Jose Arena, San Jose, Calif. Thursday Kentucky (32-4) vs.St. Joseph’s (26-6) Utah (28-3) vs. Stanford (22-7)

Wordcount: 866
Tags: basketball

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