GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG men’s basketball senior forward Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) became the 25th place in program history to reach the 1,000-career point mark Thursday night, leading the Spartans to a 73-51 Southern Conference win over VMI at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The victory moved the Spartans into sole possession of second place in the league standings with a 17-6 overall mark and an 8-2 record in SoCon action. The 17 wins are tied for 10th most in a single season in UNCG basketball history. The win also improves the Spartans to 12-1 at home this year, including a 5-0 home record in conference play.
Smith joined the illustrious club at the 15:56 mark of the first half, hitting a leaning runner from 10-feet out for his 1,000th career point. He finished the game with a team-high 13 points and joins teammate Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) as current Spartans in the 1,000-point club.
UNCG had balanced scoring in the victory with 10 different players scoring in the win and eight different players having at least five points. Sophomore forward James Dickey (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) notched his second double-double of the season and fifth of his career, scoring 12 points and grabbing a team-high 10 assists. Dickey connected on 4-of-7 from the field and also dished out four assists as the Spartans had 17 helpers as a team.
Freshman guard Isaiah Miller (Covington, Ga./Newton) added 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals off the bench in 18 minutes. Miller was 5-of-7 from the field and hit his only free throw. Senior forward Jordy Kuiper (Groningen, Netherlands/Canaries Basketball Academy) added 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting from the field in 22 minutes of play.
The Spartans finished the game shooting just 40.6 percent (26-of-64) from the field and only 28.6 percent (10-of-35) from 3-point land on the night but made a difference on the defensive end. UNCG forced the Keydets into 23 turnovers and used those miscues to scored 20 points off turnovers. The Spartans held VMI to 40.9 percent (18-of-44) shooting from the field and 33.3 percent (5-of-15) from deep as UNCG attempted 20 more shots than the Keydets. Austin Vereen led VMI with 14 points while Bubba Parham added 13 points.
The Spartans scored the game’s first nine points and held VMI without a basket for almost five minutes to start the game. UNCG pushed its lead out to 24-8 with 9:59 remaining in the first half as Smith led the way with five points during the run, including the capping 3-pointer. Redshirt freshman Kylia Sykes (Washington, D.C./St. John’s College) added five points during the run while Kuiper and junior guard Demetrius Troy (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) each hit from long range early on.
The Spartans went into the locker room holding a 41-18 lead at halftime as they closed the half on a 9-1 run. Alonso hit a 3-pointer in the run while Dickey and Kuiper converted free throws in the final 30 seconds for the 23-point advantage. The 18 points scored by VMI ties a season-low for first half points for the Keydets, as they were forced into 15 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.
The second half saw VMI not get any closer than 15 points as the Spartans kept it at bay. Miller scored nine of his points in the second half, hitting 4-of-5 from the field while UNCG forced VMI into eight-second half turnovers.
The Spartans will be off until next Wednesday as they travel to Greenville, S.C., for a pivotal SoCon matchup against Furman. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Timmons Arena. The Spartans posted a 71-61 victory over the Paladins earlier this season at the Greensboro Coliseum.
-- UNCG --