Menís Basketball Opens SoCon Play Wednesday At The Citadel On ESPN3
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team opens the Southern Conference season Wednesday night when the Spartans travel to Charleston, S.C., to take on the nation’s highest scoring team in The Citadel. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at McAlister Field House and will be televised on ESPN3 and the ESPN App with Kendall Lewis and Sadath Jean-Pier on the call. Additionally, the game will be broadcast on the TuneIn App and online at www.uncgspartans.com/radio with Scott Pryzwansky and Darryl Kosciak on the call.
Wednesday’s game marks the 20th Southern Conference opener in UNCG history. The Spartans are 9-10 in SoCon openers in program history, including just a 3-7 mark when opening league play on the road. Last season, UNCG travelled to Wofford and suffered am 87-76 setback to the Terriers. The Spartans’ three wins on the road in program history in SoCon openers came at ETSU (2014-15), at Samford (2009-10) and at Chattanooga (1997-98).
UNCG and The Citadel have met four prior times in league openers with each team winning twice. The Spartans won the last time they met in a SoCon opener 84-54 in 2012 while also claiming a win in 1997. The Citadel won league openers against UNCG in 2008 and 2000. The game in 2000 marks the only other time UNCG has opened league play at McAllister Field House.
Wednesday’s game marks the 30th meeting all-time between UNCG and The Citadel. The Spartans hold a 20-9 record all-time against the Bulldogs, including three straight wins in the series. Last year, UNCG swept the regular season series with a thrilling 102-95 victory in Charleston and a 92-63 win in Greensboro. The Spartans averaging 97.0 points per game against the Bulldogs last season while shooting 51.6 percent (65-of-126) from the field and 43.8 percent (21-of-48) from distance. The Citadel conversely connected on just 33.6 percent (47-of-140) from the field and 29.7 percent (22-of-74) from 3-point land.
Junior forward Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) averaged 14.0 points and 15.0 rebounds per game last season against The Citadel. Smith posted double-doubles in both victories, scoring 10 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in Charleston before adding 18 points and a career-high 16 rebounds in Greensboro. Sophomore guard Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) averaged 21.0 points per game against the Bulldogs, connecting on 60 percent (12-of-20) from the field and 52.9 percent (9-of-17) from distance. Senior guard Diante Baldwin (Greensboro, N.C./High Point Christian) averaged 19.0 points, 7.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game against The Citadel as he shot 60.9 percent (14-of-23) from the field and got to the free throw line a team-high 21 times in two games.
The Spartans enter the Southern Conference schedule with the third-best record in the league at 9-4. UNCG has won eight out of its last 10 games but is coming off a loss at Georgetown Dec. 22. The Spartans are averaging 74.2 points per game while holding opponents to just 63.5 points per game. UNCG is shooting 45.3 percent (355-of-783) from the field and 39.7 percent (125-of-315) from 3-point land. The Spartans are out-rebounding opponents by a 36.1-30.7 margin this season, the best in the league at +5.4.
The Spartans have four players averaging double figures on the year, one of three teams in the Southern Conference to have at least four players averaging double figures. Alonso leads the team in scoring at 12.1 points per game. He leads the team with 35 made 3-pointers, connecting on 43.8 percent. Baldwin is second on the team in scoring at 11.6 points per game and leads the team with 53 assists and 29 steals. He is shooting 78.1 percent (25-of-32) from the free throw line.
Senior center R.J. White (Frisco, Texas/Frisco) is third on the team in scoring at 11.0 points per game. White ranks second on the team on the glass with 6.3 rebounds per game. He is shooting 55.8 percent (56-of-104) from the field, ranking ninth in the SoCon. He is coming off his first double-double of the season, scoring 14 points and grabbing 12 rebounds against Georgetown. Smith rounds out the Spartans in double figures scoring at 10.9 points per game. He is second on the team with 24 3-pointers, hitting at a 33.8 percent clip. He ranks third on the team with 4.6 rebounds per game and is third on the team with 23 offensive rebounds.
Sophomore forward James Dickey (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) leads the team in scoring at 6.6 rebounds per game and leads the team with 36 offensive rebounds. Sophomore guard Demetrius Troy (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) is third on the team with 21 3-pointers and is averaging 8.0 points per game.
The Citadel enters Wednesday’s game with a 7-6 overall record, including a 6-1 mark at home at McAlister Field House. The Bulldogs have downed Johnson University (Fla.), Truett McConnell, Stetson, Presbyterian, Colgate, USC Upstate and Toccoa Falls while falling to College of Charleston, Iowa State, Arizona State, Campbell, Virginia Tech and UMBC. The Citadel leads NCAA Division I in scoring at 103.2 points per game but allow the second-most points per game at 101.8. The Bulldogs are shooting 42.9 percent (441-of-1028) from the field and 36 percent (183-of-508) from 3-point land. The Citadel has attempted 245 more shots from the field than any other SoCon team.
The Bulldogs are the only team in the SoCon with six players averaging double figures in scoring. Zane Najdawi leads The Citadel in scoring at 17.9 points per game and first on the glass at 8.2 rebounds per game. Najdawi is shooting 51.4 percent (73-of-142) from the field and 85.1 percent (80-of-94) from the free throw line. Quayson Williams is second on the team in scoring at 13.5 points per game. Williams leads the team with 42 3-pointers as seven different players have at least 10 made 3-pointers. He is shooting 44.7 percent from deep.
Preston Parks is third on the team in scoring at 13.3 points per game, despite coming off the bench in all 13 games. Parks has hit 28 3-pointers and leads the team with 62 assists. Kaelon Harris adds 11.3 points per game, despite coming off the bench in 12 games. Frankie Johnson adds 10.2 points per game while Brian White rounds out the double figure scorers at 10.1 points per game.
-- UNCG --