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Indiana vs. Chattanooga Q&A: beat writer Gene Henley gives us the lowdown on the Mocs

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Chattanooga Times Free Press writer Gene Henley was kind enough to tell us who the Chattanooga Mocs are and how Thursday's first round game shapes up.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Big thanks to Gene Henley for taking time while on the way to Des Moines to answer our questions about the Mocs. Give him a follow on Twitter -- @genehenleytfp.

1. Let's start with what Chattanooga has accomplished thus far. Wins agains Georgia, Illinois (the only common opponent), and Dayton jump off the page when you look at the Mocs' schedule. But what else can you tell us about the kind of season this team has had?

GENE: Well, they have one loss to a team that has been considered their equal all season long (Iowa State). They've played the past 25 games without the preseason player of the year in Casey Jones (dislocated ankle), beating Dayton on the road 24 hours after it happened and ending their 27-game home win streak. They're balanced on offense and long on defense.

2. From the stat sheet, Justin Tuoyo and Chuck Ester appear to be the big men (6'10" and 6'7", respectively) who get quality playing time for the Mocs. How do those two matchup with Thomas Bryant and Max Bielfeldt, two bigs who can stretch the floor and play in the paint?

GENE: Tuoyo is the two-time DPOY in the SoCon. I believe he's blocked around 165, 170 shots in his two-year career. He's got good quickness and great length for the position, and could match up decently well with Bryant.

Chuck is a solid defender. He's also got length, and seems to be at the right place all of the time.

They match up well athletically with Bryant and Bielfeldt. Bryant's thicker than Tuoyo, and Bielfeldt is probably bigger than Ester, but Chuck is more athletic.

3. Most Indiana fans probably assume that if the Hoosiers can shoot the 3 well and limit turnovers, this team is advancing to Saturday. How does Chattanooga fare in defending the 3 and forcing turnovers?

GENE: Pretty well, although they've had some bad points. UTC isn't going to press for 40 minutes and try to force turnovers, but they'll create their share because of their length.

4. Let's play a thorough game of fill-in-the-blank: For Chattanooga to beat Indiana, they have to _________.

GENE: They have to contain Yogi on defense and share the ball on offense. Their calling card offensively has been all five players being involved in the flow of the game, and that can't change.

5. If Chattanooga takes down the blue bloods and makes it to the Sweet 16, America will know the name ___________.

GENE: Tre' McLean. For the Mocs to win against IU and UK, it means that he would have done a good job on either Yogi or Troy Williams in the first game, and probably against Jamal Murray in the second round. Plus he's the team's emotional leader and its' leader in most categories since Casey Jones went out, so he'll have to continue that production.

6. Why should Indiana fans be worried?

GENE: Because UTC won't be intimidated. In their minds, this is just the next game on the schedule. They've played (and won) at Georgia and Dayton, as well as a neutral-court win against Illinois. The moment won't be too big for them. Plus, if it's a close game at the half, all the pressure goes on IU, especially considering UTC would start gaining a number of Kentucky fans in attendance at that point.

7. Why should Chattanooga fans be worried?

GENE: Because Yogi Ferrell is the real deal. He and Monte Morris are the best point guards UTC has seen this year, and Morris had a solid game when Iowa State won in November (14 points, 10 assists).

And I think Ferrell is better than Morris, by a solid margin.

8. How do you see this game unfolding and what's your prediction?

GENE: I think that UTC comes out and throws the first punch, as they've typically done in these types of games to try and gain some momentum early. I think it's very close at the half, which in turn helps what was probably a pro-IU crowd into one that is rooting for UTC.

IU will make a run and probably take a lead in the second half, but UTC will take over late, make a couple of key shots and defeat a really good IU team, 72-67.

Thanks again to Gene Henley. Indiana and Chattanooga tip at 7:10 p.m. Thursday night on CBS. Get CQ's full game preview here.