GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team returns home to the Greensboro Coliseum Thursday night and hosts former Southern Conference and Triad rival Elon. Game time is set for 7 p.m. and will be aired on ESPN3 and the ESPN App with Scott Pryzwansky and Darryl Kosciak on the call. Links will be available at www.uncgspartans.com.
Thursday’s game marks the beginning of a stretch of games that sees the Spartans play five of their next six games at home to close out the calendar year of 2017. The Spartans are 4-0 at home this season, including 2-0 at home at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Spartans posted home wins over Delaware and Longwood at the Coliseum while picking up wins over North Carolina Wesleyan and Ferrum College on campus at Fleming Gymnasium. Last year, UNCG recorded a 13-4 record at home marking the most home wins in a single season in program history. Since the 2015-16 season, the Spartans are 29-8 at home, good for a 78.4 winning percentage.
The Spartans are coming off a thrilling, come-from-behind triple overtime victory Saturday afternoon at Liberty by a 76-75 margin. The game marked just the second triple overtime game in UNCG basketball history and the first-ever win by the Spartans in triple overtime. UNCG’s only other game to reach three extra sessions game February 28, 2004 with a 112-108 loss at Elon.
Saturday, the Spartans overcame an 11-point second half effort and trailed by seven points with 1:37 remaining. Junior guard Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) scored a career-high 36 points and was clutch late in the game, hitting three last-second shots to either extend the game or win the game. Alonso hit the game-winning shot with 2.4 second left in triple overtime. He also hit game-tying 3-pointers in the final seconds at the end of regulation and at the end of the second overtime to keep the Spartans alive. Alonso shook off a slow start, scoring 31 of his 36 points after halftime, finishing the night shooting 10-of-31 from the field, 7-of-19 from 3-point land and 9-of-11 from the free throw line. His 36 points are the most for a Spartan since Trevis Simpson scored 41 points in 2013. Alonso earned Southern Conference Player of the Week honors for his play against the Flames.
The Spartans enter Thursday’s game with a 5-3 overall record. The Spartans are averaging 74.8 points per game while holding opponents to 60.9 points per game. The Spartans’ scoring defense is the best in the Southern Conference this season and ranks 14th in NCAA Division I. UNCG is shooting 43.8 percent (210-of-480) from the field and 36.2 percent (84-of-232) from 3-point land. Opponents are shooting 41.1 percent (159-of-387) from the field and 30.9 percent (47-of-152) from deep.
Alonso leads the team and ranks second in the Southern Conference in scoring at 19.4 points per game. Alonso has hit a team-high 31 3-pointers, connecting on 44.9 percent. He is also shooting 86.7 percent (26-of-30) from the free throw line. Senior forward Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) is second on the team in scoring at 10.1 points per game. Smith is third on the team on the glass grabbing 4.5 rebounds per game while ranking second on the team with 16 made 3-pointers.
Sophomore forward James Dickey (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) leads the team and the SoCon on the glass grabbing 9.8 caroms per game. Dickey is third on the team with 8.9 points per game while ranking first in the league with 20 blocked shots. Junior guard Demetrius Troy (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) adds 7.3 points per game and a team-high 22 assists while freshman Isaiah Miller (Covington, Ga./Newton) is averaging 6.9 points per game off the bench. Senior forward Jordy Kuiper (Groningen, Netherlands/Canaries Basketball Academy) ranks second on the team with 5.1 rebounds per game.
Elon enters Thursday’s game with a 6-3 overall record and an 0-3 mark on the road this year. The Phoenix has picked up wins over William Peace, Florida International, Concordia-St. Paul, Radford, USF and Saint Peter’s. Elon has dropped games this year at Duke, at Furman and at Milwaukee. The Phoenix has won three-straight games heading into Thursday’s game. Elon is averaging 78.7 points per game while allowing 73.8 points per game. The Phoenix is shooting 44.4 percent (254-of-572) from the field and 34.8 percent (98-of-282) from 3-point land. Opponents are shooting 41.1 percent (256-of-623) from the field and 33.8 percent (94-of-278) from distance.
Dainan Swoope leads four players averaging double figures at 17.1 points per game. Swoope leads the team with 28 made 3-pointers and is one of five players on the team with at least 10 made 3-pointers. Brian Dawkins is second on the team in scoring at 13.4 points per game while leading the Phoenix on the glass at 6.7 rebounds per game. Dawkins is shooting 49.5 percent (49-of-99) from the field.
Tyler Seibring is third on the team with 11.9 points per game while grabbing 4.9 rebounds per game Seibring has hit 17 3-pointers this year at 36.2 percent. Dmitri Thompson rounds out the double figure scorers at 10.6 points per game and is second on the team with 6.4 rebounds per game.
Thursday’s game marks the 40th meeting all-time between Triad rivals UNCG and Elon. The Spartans trail the all-time series by a 26-13 margin and have dropped 12-straight games to the Phoenix. UNCG last won a game against Elon in the 2009-10 season with a 63-55 home victory.
The teams last met during the 2015-16 season when Elon posting a 79-69 victory at home. Former Spartans Diante Baldwin and RJ White scored 15 and 14 points respectively while Alonso added 11 points during his freshman season. Steven Santa Ana scored 13 points off the bench while Christian Hairston led Elon with 17 points in the win.
-- UNCG --