GAME NOTES: The Southeast Missouri Redhawks and the Chattanooga Mocs meet for the first time ever as part of subregional-round action in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.
Since losing to seventh-ranked Kansas in the season opener last week, the Redhawks have rebounded with a pair of home victories, albeit against lesser- known programs. First SEMO took care of Lyon College in an 89-61 romp on Monday, and then Thursday saw the team tackle McNeese State, 64-53, at the Show Me Center as well.
As for the Mocs, they too clashed with the Jayhawks already this season, although they made it a bit more respectable in a 69-55 setback on Thursday. That defeat came three days after Chattanooga opened the 2012-13 campaign with an 88-53 thrashing of Tennessee Temple at home. The Mocs are now just 3-48 all-time against nationally-ranked opponents.
Both teams will be back in action over the next couple of days as they square off against the other two programs in this region, Louisiana Tech and Troy.
The Redhawks shot only 4-of-19 behind the three-point line against McNeese State the last time out, but from inside the arc SEMO was right on target as it converted 23-of-31 attempts, en route to the double-digit home win. Nino Johnson set the tone for the hosts as he posted game highs with 20 points and nine rebounds, not to mention all three of the unit's blocked shots. Tyler Stone accounted for 18 points and seven boards, followed by Nick Niemczyk with 10 points off the bench. After three games Johnson is averaging a double- double for the group with his 15.3 ppg and 11 rpg, the second stat ranking him first among Ohio Valley Conference programs. Playing so close to the rim has also made it rather easy for Johnson to find quality shot attempts as he shoots a team-best 70.4 percent from the floor.
Hard to believe, but the Mocs actually held a 36-28 lead at the half against Kansas in Lawrence in the last outing, but after that the hosts went on to shooting an even 50 percent from the floor in the second half to claim the win. Z. Mason finished with 13 points and Drazen Zlovaric 10 to lead the starting five for the Mocs, but the other three combined to shoot just 1-of-13 from the floor, so it was important for the team to get a lift from the reserves, which they did in the form of Farad Cobb who converted 7-of-9 behind the three-point line to finish with a team-best 21 points in 24 minutes. After two games Mason and Cobb lead the offense for Chattanooga with 14.5 ppg apiece, the latter doing the majority of his damage out on the perimeter where he's made 8-of-14 attempts. Unfortunately, the team as a whole is shooting just 28.9 percent on three-point tries and 38.6 percent from the floor overall.
The fact that Chattanooga gave the Jayhawks a run for their money has to count for something these days and if nothing less it should have provided the Mocs with enough confidence to know that they should come out on top in this outing.
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