GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team returned home to the Greensboro and wanted to make a statement against Triad rival Elon Thursday night and the Spartans did just that as they stifled the Phoenix defensively and used balanced scoring attack to post a dominating 75-44 victory over Elon. The win improved UNCG to 6-3 on the year and 5-0 at home, raising their home mark to 30-8 over the last three seasons.
The win is the first for the Spartans against the Phoenix since 2010, snapping a 12-game skid in the series. The win marked the fourth time this year that UNCG has held an opponent under 50 points and the 44-point output is the lowest total for an Elon team since January 14, 2012 when the Phoenix also scored 44 points in a loss at the College of Charleston.
The Spartans’ defense held Elon (6-4) to just 34.7 percent (17-of-49) shooting from the field and only 14.3 percent (4-of-28) from 3-point land in the victory. UNCG forced the Phoenix into 16 turnovers and turned those miscues into 14 points as the Spartans’ pressure defense wreaked havoc all night long.
“I was pleased with our defensive effort tonight,” head coach Wes Miller said. “Our energy and effort on the defensive side of the ball set the tone from the start. Even when we lost a spark early in the second half our team found a way to get that energy and effort back. When we play defense the way we did tonight, we have a chance to be a very good basketball team.”
Offensively, the Spartans had eight different players score at least seven points as their depth and balance paid dividends. UNCG connected on 53.4 percent (31-of-58) from the floor and 37 percent (10-of-27) from 3-point land. Senior forward Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) returned to action and led the team with 12 points in 21 minutes while also posting four steals. Smith connected on 5-of-9 from the field and hit a pair of 3-pointers.
Freshman guard Isaiah Miller (Covington, Ga./Newton) came off the bench and added 12 points in 19 minutes of play, hitting 5-of-7 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw line. Sophomore forward James Dickey (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) posted nine points and eight rebounds, shooting 4-of-5 from the field. Dickey’s play helped the Spartans out-rebound Elon by a 32-27 margin.
Junior guard Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) had an impressive showing coming off a career-high 36-points last time out at Liberty. Alonso scored only eight points but dished out a career-high seven assists in 24 minutes.
Junior Demetrius Troy (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) added eight points while sophomore Malik Massey (Charlotte, N.C./New Hampton Prep) also scored eight. Senior Jordy Kuiper (Groningen, Netherlands/Canaries Basketball Academy) and redshirt freshman Kylia Sykes (Washington, D.C./St. John’s College) each added seven points in the balanced attack.
The Spartans came out of the gate quickly, jumping on the Phoenix 11-2 in the first six minutes of the game. Alonso provided the spark early with five quickly points while Smith added four in the run. UNCG’s defense forced the Phoenix into four turnovers early and just 1-of-6 shooting early on. The Spartans would maintain the double-digit lead and extended it to 32-14 with seven-straight points, keyed by five from Smith and a fast break basket from Miller.
Elon made a run early in the second half to pull back within 11 at 38-27 on a basket by Brian Dawkins but UNCG put to rest any thought of a comeback with a 12-0 run over a span of 2:26 to pull out to a 50-27 lead. The Spartans hit four-straight 3-pointers in the run by four different players with Troy, Alonso, Smith and Kuiper all hitting from deep to send the Spartan faithful into a frenzy.
UNCG would close out the dominating effort down the stretch, extending its lead to 31-points late in the game on a 3-pointer from Massey. Miller scored eight of his points in the second half while Troy hit a pair of second half 3-pointers in the resounding win.
The Spartans are in a midst of five home games in a six-game stretch to close out the calendar year. UNCG returns to action Dec. 13 when it welcomes in UNCW for a 7 p.m. contest.
-- UNCG --