GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team opens the 2017-18 season Friday night as the Spartans travel to Charlottesville, Va., for a meeting against Atlantic Coast Conference foe Virginia. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena. The game will be broadcast on the ACC Network, ESPN3 and the ESPN App with John Freeman and Chelsea Shine on the call. Additionally, the game will be radio broadcast on TuneIn with links available at www.uncgspartans.com.
The Spartans are coming off one of their best seasons in program history, posting a 25-10 record last year and winning the Southern Conference regular season title with a 14-4 mark. UNCG played in the postseason for the second-straight year, earning the league’s automatic bid in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), playing Syracuse on the road.
The Spartans were picked to finish fifth in the preseason coaches’ poll and third in the preseason media poll in the SoCon. UNCG returns 11 letterwinners from last year’s team but will have to replace to starters that combined to average 35 percent of the team’s scores and 28 percent of the team’s rebounding.
Junior guard Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) leads the team into the season after averaging a team-best 14.9 points per game. Alonso has scored 963 career points in two seasons, the second-most points ever scored in a freshman-sophomore season in UNCG history, trailing only Kyle Hines (986). He ranked third in NCAA Division I in 3-point shooting last year, hitting 46.2 percent (102-of-221) from deep. His 102 made 3-pointers were a single-season record at UNCG.
Senior forward Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) is the second-leading scorer returning this year. Smith averaged 9.1 points per game while grabbing 4.1 rebounds per game. He connected on 55 3-pointers last season, hitting 31.4 percent from long range.
Junior guard Demetrius Troy (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) averaged 6.9 points per game and was second on the team with 117 assists. Troy connected on 44 3-pointers last year, shooting 38.3 percent. Redshirt sophomore James Dickey (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) averaged 6.3 points per game last year and lead the team on the glass grabbing 7.2 rebounds per game. Senior forward Jordy Kuiper (Groningen, Netherlands/Canaries Basketball Academy) chipped in 5.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last year.
Friday’s game marks the second-straight season UNCG and Virginia have met in a season opener. Last year, the Cavaliers traveled to Greensboro as the No. 6 team in the country and posted a 76-51 victory. UNCG connected on just 37 percent (17-of-46) from the field and 33.3 percent (7-of-21) from 3-point land. Alonso led the team with 14 points while Smith added 10 points in the loss. Marial Shayok led Virginia with 15 points off the bench while Isaiah Wilkins contributed 10 points and nine rebounds.
Virginia was picked to finish sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference preseason poll after posting a 23-11 overall record last year. The Cavaliers advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Florida. Virginia lost its top two scorers from last year’s team in London Perrantes and Marial Shayok. The Cavaliers averaged 66.1 points per game and held opponents to just 56.4 points per game. Opponents connected on only 39.8 percent (658-of-1654) from the field and 31.7 percent (209-of-659) from deep.
Devon Hall is the leading returning scorer for Virginia, averaging 8.4 points per game and adding 4.4 rebounds per game. Hall connected on 37.2 percent (32-of-86) from 3-point land last year. Kyle Guy averaged 7.5 points per game last season and connected on 49.5 percent (51-of-103) from 3-point land. Isaiah Wilkins led the team with 6.5 rebounds per game while chipping in 6.0 points per game.
-- UNCG --