Menís Basketball Opens SoCon Play Thursday At Western Carolina
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team opens Southern Conference play Thursday night when the Spartans travel to Cullowhee for a meeting with Western Carolina. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at the Ramsey Center and will be broadcast on 1320 WCOG AM and online at www.uncgspartans.com with Scott Pryzwansky providing the call.
Thursday’s game marks the 17th SoCon opener in program history for the Spartans, who are 8-8 all-time in such games but just 2-5 on the road. Last year, the Spartans opened SoCon play in impressive fashion with an 84-54 victory over The Citadel at the Greensboro Coliseum.
UNCG enters Thursday’s game with a 7-8 overall record and is coming off three straight games against the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Spartans dropped an eight-point contest to Wake Forest, won a three-point game at Virginia Tech and dropped a four-point contest to NC State during the demanding end to non-conference play. The three-game run was keyed by the Spartans’ battle on the glass against the ACC, out-rebounding both NC State and being tied with Virginia Tech on the glass.
Junior forward Kyle Cain (Chicago, Ill./Arizona State) leads the Spartans and ranks seventh in the SoCon in scoring at 15.8 points per game. Cain has scored in double figures in 13 of 15 games this year and is shooting 51.3 percent (99-of-193) from the field this year. He leads the team and ranks second in the league on the glass grabbing 8.6 rebounds per game.
Freshman guard Tevon Saddler (Aberdeen, Md./St. Frances Academy) is second on the team in scoring at 12.2 points per game. Saddler is coming off an 18-point performance off the bench against NC State, as he was 5-of-8 from the field and 8-of-10 from the free throw line. He leads the team and the SoCon with 102 free throw attempts in just 14 games.
Sophomore forward Kayel Locke (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) rounds out the Spartans in double figures scoring at 12.1 points per game. Locke posted one of his best performances of the season Monday night, scoring 19 points and grabbing six rebounds against NC State. Locke connected on 6-of-12 from the field and 7-of-11 from the free throw line. Junior Nicholas Paulos (Salt Lake City, Utah/New Hampton School) leads the team with 38 three-pointers and chips in 9.7 points per game.
Western Carolina also enters Thursday’s game with a 7-8 overall record and owns a 5-0 mark at home at the Ramsey Center. The Catamounts have picked up home wins against Wittenberg, UNC Asheville, Limestone, Charleston Southern and most recently a 106-72 win over Milligan Monday night. Western Carolina and UNCG have played one common opponent in Virginia Tech. The Spartans posted a 55-52 victory over the Hokies last weekend while the Catamounts dropped a 79-61 contest in Blacksburg in November.
Trey Sumler leads the Catamounts and ranks third in the SoCon in scoring at 19.8 points per game. Sumler is shooting 43.1 percent (31-of-72) from three-point land and 84.4 percent (54-of-64) from the free throw line. He also leads the team with 56 assists and on the glass at 4.6 rebounds per game.
Brandon Boggs is second on the team in scoring at 10.7 points per game while also grabbing 4.2 rebounds per game. Boggs has hit 20 three-pointer this season as WCU averages 8.5 made three-pointers per game. Tom Tankelewicz rounds out the double figure scorers for the Catamounts at 10.6 points per game and has hit a team-high 37 three-pointers.
Additionally, Thursday’s game marks the 43rd meeting all-time between UNCG and Western Carolina. The Spartans trail the all-time series by a 26-16 margin, including just a 1-11 mark over the last 12 meetings. Last season, UNCG dropped two regular season games to the Catamounts with both games coming down to the final possession. Former Spartan Derrell Armstrong led UNCG with 21.5 points per game in the two losses while Sumler averaged 19.0 points per game for the Catamounts.
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