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Mike Bothwell

On Wednesday night, Furman, the preseason favorite to win the Southern Conference in men’s basketball, visits Chattanooga, Tenn., to play the team that defeated it – in overtime on a long buzzer beater in overtime – in the finals of the SoCon tournament on March 7, 2022.

The stakes are as comparable as they can be at this point in the season.

The Paladins (13-6, 4-2 SoCon) and Mocs (11-8, 3-3 SoCon) both are coming off losses and looking to return to the win column to keep pace with Southern Conference leaders Samford (12-7, 6-0) and UNC Greensboro (11-8, 5-1). Furman dropped a heartbreaking 88-80 overtime decision at home versus the Spartans on Saturday, while Chattanooga fell 75-74 at Samford.

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Jalen Slawson

In the aftermath of the UNCG loss, Furman head coach Bob Richey said: “We’ve got to embrace the moment. We’ve got to know, in big games, you’re playing a really good team, there are going to be runs, and we’ve got to do the things necessary to stop them. 

“You can’t give them the ball. You can’t take bad shots, and you can’t foul. You can’t get beaten in transition. … You’ve got to play really good fundamental basketball. I thought we kind of lost sight of that, and I’ve got to make our guys better there.”

Furman is in 3rd place. Chattanooga is tied for 4th. The game at McKenzie Arena is to begin at 7 p.m.

Mike Bothwell and Jalen Slawson scored 22 points apiece versus UNCG, but Furman saw the Spartans erase a 13-point deficit in the final eight minutes of regulation before outscoring the Paladins 11-3 in the extra period to escape with the win. Furman was whistled for a season-high 29 fouls in the loss and UNCG took advantage by converting on 33-of-41 trips to the foul line.

Wednesday’s contest will be the 95th between Furman and Chattanooga in a series that dates back to the 1921-22 season. The Mocs hold a 57-37 lead in the series and swept three games from the Paladins a year ago, including the 64-63 overtime win on David Jean Baptiste’s last-second 3-pointer. Prior to last season, Furman won eight straight encounters versus the Mocs and captured four consecutive victories at McKenzie Arena before suffering a 2-point defeat last season in Chattanooga.

Fans can listen to Wednesday’s action on The Fan Upstate at 97.7 FM, 1330 AM, and through the Audacy app with Tom Van Hoy on the call. Following Wednesday’s tilt, Furman travels to Spartanburg to renew its instate rivalry with Wofford on Sunday, Jan. 22, at 4 p.m. in a game that will air live on ESPNU.