GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team closes out the road portion of the regular season with a three-game road trip beginning Thursday night when the Spartans travel to Charleston, S.C., for a meeting with The Citadel at McAlister Fieldhouse. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and the ESPN App with Zeke Beam and Ryan Mattocks on the call while also airing on TuneIn with Scott Pryzwansky on the Spartan Sports Network.
Thursday’s game pits the Southern Conference’s top scoring defense in UNCG against the league’s highest-scoring offense in The Citadel. The Spartans enter the game ranked first in the league and sixth in the nation in scoring defense at 62.5 points per game while the Bulldogs lead the league and rank eighth in the nation in scoring offense at 85.5 points per game.
The Spartans enter Thursday’s game with a 20-6 overall record and an 11-2 mark in Southern Conference play. UNCG has won four-straight games and nine out of its last 10 games, including an impressive 74-56 victory over first place ETSU Monday night. The Spartans are 6-5 on the road this season, including a 4-2 mark in league play. UNCG has picked up road league wins at VMI, Western Carolina, Samford and Furman. The Spartans are averaging 73.7 points per game while holding opponents to 62.5 points per game. UNCG is shooting 44.7 percent (681-of-1524) from the field and 36.1 percent (252-of-698) from 3-point land. Opponents are shooting 41.0 percent (540-of-1316) from the field and 31.4 percent (161-of-512) from distance.
Junior guard Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) leads the Spartans in scoring at 16.5 points per game and is coming off a 20-point performance against the Bucs. Alonso also leads the team with 89 made 3-pointers, connecting on 42.6 percent from deep. He is also shooting 88.5 percent (69-of-78) from the free throw line. Senior forward Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) is second on the team in scoring at 12.3 points per game while grabbing 5.4 rebounds per game. Smith is second on the team with 54 made 3-pointers, hitting at 33.3 percent.
Sophomore forward James Dickey (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) leads the team and the SoCon with 8.4 rebounds per game while adding 8.7 points per game. Dickey is shooting 52.4 percent (87-of-166) from the field and was named the SoCon Player of the Week Tuesday after notching a school-record eight blocked shots. Freshman guard Isaiah Miller (Covington, Ga./Newton) adds 7.9 points per game off the bench and leads the team with 36 steals. Miller is shooting 89-of-156 (57.1%) on 2-point field goals. Junior guard Demetrius Troy (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) adds 7.0 points per game and leads the team with 103 assists. Troy is shooting 35 percent (35-of-100) from distance and scored a season-high 17 points against ETSU, hitting 4-of-4 from deep. Senior forward Jordy Kuiper (Groningen, Netherlands/Canaries Basketball Academy) also adds 7.0 points per game while grabbing 4.8 rebounds per game. Kuiper is shooting 35.6 percent (31-of-87) from 3-point land.
The Citadel enters Thursday’s game with a 9-16 overall record and a 4-9 mark in Southern Conference play. The Bulldogs have dropped back-to-back games, falling at Chattanooga and Samford last week. The Citadel is 7-5 at home this year, including a 3-3 mark in league play with wins over Chattanooga, Wofford and Furman. The Bulldogs lead the league in scoring at 85.5 points per game but allow the most points per game at 90.0. The Citadel is shooting 42.6 percent (731-of-1716) from the field and 34.6 percent (298-of-861) from 3-point land. Opponents are shooting 49.1 percent (817-of-1665) from the field and 38.1 percent (274-of-719) from long range.
Zane Najdawi leads the Bulldogs in scoring at 14.9 points per game while grabbing 4.3 rebounds per game. Najdawi is shooting 52.3 percent (135-of-258) from the field, 38.7 percent (29-of-75) from 3-point land and 71.6 percent (58-of-81) from the free throw line. Matt Frierson is second on the team in scoring at 13.5 points per game. Frierson has hit 89-of-236 (37.7%) from 3-point land this year and is one of six Bulldogs with 25 or more made 3-pointers. Kaelon Harris is third on the team in scoring at 9.8 points per game while leading the team with 4.9 rebounds per game.
Thursday’s game marks the 34th meeting all-time between UNCG and The Citadel. The Spartans lead the all-time series by a 24-9 margin and have won seven-straight in the season along with 12 out of the last 14 meetings. In fact, UNCG has won five-straight games over The Citadel in Charleston with its last loss coming in 2009. Earlier this season, the Spartans posted a 72-58 victory over the Bulldogs at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Spartans’ defense held the Bulldogs to just 58 points with the 58-point output is the lowest The Citadel has scored since February 20, 2016. The Spartans held the Bulldogs to only 38.9 percent (21-of-54) shooting from the field and just 24.1 percent (7-of-29) from 3-point land. UNCG also dominated the glass, out-rebounding The Citadel 44-33, including 15 offensive rebounds.
Seven different Spartans scored at least five points in the win and four different players scored in double figures. The depth of the Spartans shined through as UNCG out-scored The Citadel 27-9 in points off the bench. Smith led the way with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds. Miller added 13 points and five rebounds, four on the offensive glass, in 16 minutes of play off the bench. Troy added 12 points and eight assists while Dickey rounded out the double figure scorers with 10 points and eight rebounds, connecting on 4-of-5 from the field. Najdawi led The Citadel with 25 points as he scored the first 13 points of the game for the Bulldogs. He finished 10-of-16 from the field in 31 minutes of action. Frierson added 17 points on 4-of-11 shooting from deep but The Citadel didn’t have another player score over six points in the loss.
-- UNCG --