LEXINGTON, KY. – Facing one of the top teams in the country, UNC Greensboro men’s basketball was unable to score a marquee win on Saturday afternoon, as the Spartans fell to Kentucky by a final of 78-61 at Rupp Arena.
The loss snaps a six-game winning streak for UNCG, as the Spartans are now 7-2 on the season with just one more road non-conference game on the schedule, which will take place next Friday.
“Certainly, I’m really proud of my kids. I really like my group. I think we have a long way to go to become the team we’re trying to be, but I think they like to compete, they like each other, they like to fight and I thought they showed that in stretches, and at times, on the big stage here tonight,” said Head Coach Wes Miller. “So, that’s the first thing. I want to give Kentucky a lot of credit. I thought their defense was tremendous in the second half. We had a hard time coming by quality shots.
“I’d like our execution to be a little bit better, but you’ve got to tip your cap to them first because they made it really difficult for us and it hasn’t been that hard to shoot the ball and hit quality shots on us all year. They really turned it up on us in the second half. We’ll learn a lot from this game.”
The first half was a tight one, with neither team getting much of a leg up on the other, but the Spartans opened the frame hot, jumping out to a 5-0 lead, and closed it out on a 5-0 run as well.
Senior guard Francis Alonso was unstoppable to start the game, as Kentucky had no answer for the sharpshooter’s ability to get the ball in the basket. Within the first five minutes of the game, Alonso hit double-digits in scoring as he collected UNCG’s first 11 points. Alonso remained hot throughout the first half, as he dropped 19 points in the opening frame.
While Kentucky was in possession of the lead for almost eight full minutes in the first, UNCG went into the halftime break up 40-37, as the Spartans held the Wildcats scoreless for the final 2:26 of the period.
Along with Alonso’s hot shooting, junior forward Eric Hamilton was productive off the bench, filling in for fellow junior forward James Dickey who picked up two early fouls. Hamilton was 3-of-3 from the floor, scoring seven points and grabbing a team-high four rebounds.
The Spartans, however, were unable to hang with the Wildcats in the second half, as UNCG scored just 21 points on 28 percent shooting in the second half while Kentucky was 50 percent from the floor.
UNCG maintained its lead early in the second half and took a five-point lead on three different occasions, but a dunk by Kentucky’s Reid Travis with 8:35 left in the game gave Kentucky a lead that it ultimately wouldn’t surrender until the final whistle.
UNCG will return to action next Friday when the Spartans make the short commute over to the newly built Schar Center to take on Elon.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
News And Notes
--UNCG is now 7-2 on the season, as Saturday’s outcome snapped a six-game winning streak. The Spartans’ only two losses this season have come against ranked SEC opponents in LSU and Kentucky.
--With the loss, the Spartans’ search for a victory over an AP Top 25 team will have to wait another day. UNCG is now 0-31 in program history against the AP Top 25.
--The loss snaps a six-game winning streak dating back to UNCG’s 21-point victory over UNCW on Nov. 13. The six-game winning streak was tied for the fifth longest in program history.
--Alonso continued an impressive scoring streak on Saturday afternoon, as the senior guard has now scored at least 10 points in 10 straight games dating back to UNCG’s NCAA Tournament game against Gonzaga last March. Alonso’s previous longest streak of games with at least 10 points was eight.
--Alonso has now scored at least 15 points in all nine of UNCG’s games so far this year as well.
--The Spartans used the same starting five for the ninth straight game to start the season.
-- UNCG –