GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG men’s basketball head coach Wes Miller notched his 100th career victory Wednesday night as the Spartans picked up a pivotal Southern Conference victory over Furman, 71-61 at the Greensboro Coliseum. The victory is the fourth-straight for the Spartans as they improve to 15-5 overall and remain in second place in the league standings with a 6-1 mark.
The win makes Miller just the second head coach in UNCG basketball history to reach 100 career victories. He is now 40-15 over the last two seasons, a 72.7 winning percentage, and 20-5 in SoCon play during that span (80%). He trails only Mike Dement (118 wins) for most wins in UNCG men’s basketball history in his seventh season at the helm of the Spartans.
The victory improves the Spartans to 11-1 at home this season and marks the seventh time this season UNCG has won when trailing at the half. UNCG finished the game shooting 46.8 percent (22-of-47) from the field and 40 percent (6-of-15) from 3-point land while hitting 21-of-28 (75%) from the free throw line. Four Spartans scored in double figures and seven players scored at least five points in the victory.
Junior guard Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) led the way with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists. Alonso was 2-of-3 from 3-point land and hit 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Sophomore forward James Dickey (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) added 12 points and nine rebounds, hitting 5-of-6 from the field.
Senior forward Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) finished with 13 point and five rebounds in 29 minutes of play. Junior guard Demetrius Troy (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) continued his strong play with 11 points and four assists, marking the third-straight game in double figures.
Furman (14-7, 5-3 SoCon) was held to just 41.8 percent (23-of-55) shooting from the field and 26.1 percent (6-of-23) from 3-point land. The Paladins also connected on just 60 percent (9-of-15) from the charity stripe. John Davis led the Paladins with 19 points and seven rebounds while Matt Rafferty added 14 points and five rebounds.
The Spartans flipped the game late in the second half with a 17-1 run, hanging their hat on the defensive end. UNCG entered the game sixth in the nation in scoring defense at 61.8 points per game while Furman was second in the league in scoring offense at 79.3 points per game.
The Spartans held Furman 18 points under its season average, in large part to the defense played during the 17-1 run that spanned 8:18 of the half. The Paladins missed eight-straight shots from the field and were forced into three turnovers during the run. Furman also went just 1-of-6 from the free throw line during the run, including missing the front end of two-straight one-and-one trips.
The Spartans found themselves trailing Furman 54-50 with 9:54 remaining in the second half after Daniel Fowler hit a 3-pointer, his only long-distance make of the night. Smith answered immediately, hitting a 3-pointer of his own and Alonso gave the Spartans the lead with a basket off a Troy feed.
Troy put the Spartans up 57-54 with a jumper and then UNCG did damage at the free throw line hitting 10-of-11 over a stretch of 3:58 to stretch the Spartans’ lead to 67-55. Smith scored six points in the run, Alonso five points and Troy four. Furman would be able to narrow the gap to seven at 68-61 after three-straight baskets by Davis but senior Jordy Kuiper (Groningen, Netherlands/Canaries Basketball Academy) sealed the win with a pair of free throws.
Furman was forced into 10-second half turnovers by the Spartans’ defense and UNCG turned those miscues into 10 points. The Spartans also out-rebounded Furman by a 20-14 margin in the second half to finish the game with a 33-28 edge on the glass. Freshman guard Isaiah Miller (Covington, Ga./Newton) added eight points and four rebounds off the bench, as he was 3-of-5 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw line in 12 minutes of action.
UNCG hits the road for two-straight games this weekend, heading to Samford Saturday night and Chattanooga Monday evening. The Spartans and Bulldogs will battle in Birmingham, Ala., Saturday with an 8 p.m. (ET) tip-off on ESPN3 and the ESPN App.
-- UNCG --