ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team enters the 2018 General Shale Southern Conference Tournament, as the No. 1 seed after the Spartans were the outright SoCon Champions in the regular season. The Spartans open tournament play Saturday in the quarterfinal round playing the winner of the first round matchup between No. 8 The Citadel and No. 9 VMI.
Saturday’s quarterfinal game is slated for a noon tip-off at the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Asheville. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and the ESPN App with Pete Yanity and Dean Keener on the call. Additionally, the game will be broadcast on TuneIn with Drew Casey and Darryl Kosciak on the call.
The Spartans enter the SoCon Tournament winners of three-straight and eight out of their last nine games to finish the regular season with a 24-7 overall record and a 15-3 mark in league play. The 24 wins are the most of any team in the SoCon entering the tournament and ranks 14th in the nation. Additionally the Spartans’ 15 SoCon wins are a program-record and UNCG is the only team in the league to post an unblemished home league record at 9-0.
The Spartans are looking for their second SoCon Tournament title in program history. UNCG won the tournament in 2001 and has advanced to the championship game two other times; including last season’s title game loss to ETSU. The Spartans are 17-18 all-time in the SoCon Tournament and have gone 1-1 against The Citadel in the vent while never facing VMI. Last year, UNCG took down The Citadel in the quarterfinal round by a 76-67 margin. The Spartans swept the season series from both The Citadel and VMI this season.
On the year, UNCG is averaging 74.5 points per game while shooting 45 percent (828-of-1640) from the field and 36.4 percent (305-of-837) from distance. Opponents are averaging 63.3 points per game and shooting 41.3 percent (651-of-1576) from the field and 32.6 percent (203-of-622) from deep.
Junior guard Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) leads the team in scoring at 16.1 points per game. Alonso has connected on a team-high 104 3-pointers, hitting at 41.9 percent (104-of-248) while also connecting on 88.9 percent (80-of-90) from the free throw line. Senior forward Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) is second on the team in scoring at 12.6 points per game while grabbing 5.4 rebounds per game. Smith is second on the team with 71 made 3-pointers, connecting on 34.5 percent (71-of-206).
Sophomore forward James Dickey (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) leads the SoCon on the glass grabbing 8.3 rebounds per game. Dickey also adds 8.9 points per game while shooting 53.8 percent (106-of-197) from the field and lead the league with 64 blocked shots. Freshman guard Isaiah Miller (Covington, Ga./Newton) chips in 8.6 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game off the bench. Miller is shooting 55.2 percent (117-of-212) from the field. Senior forward Jordy Kuiper (Groningen, Netherlands/Canaries Basketball Academy) and sophomore forward Kyrin Galloway (Milton, Ga./Milton) each add 6.9 points per game on the year.
The Citadel enters the Southern Conference Tournament first round with a 10-20 overall record and finished the regular season with a 5-13 league mark. The Bulldogs have dropped six out of their last seven games but their last three wins have come against ETSU, Furman and Wofford. The Citadel enters the tournament averaging 83.4 points per game while shooting 41.6 percent (845-of-2031) from the field and 34.2 percent (361-of-1057) from distance. Opponents are averaging 89.2 points per game while shooting 48.5 percent (967-of-1994) from the field and 36.6 percent (313-of-856) from deep.
Zane Najdawi led the Bulldogs in scoring at 15.4 points per game while adding 4.9 rebounds per game. Najdawi has hit 39-of-96 (40.6%) from deep and been to the free throw line 113 times. Matt Frierson is second on the team in scoring at 13.6 points and is second in the league with 107 made 3-pointers, connecting on 36.4 percent. Kaelon Harris adds 9.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
VMI enters Friday’s first round game with a 9-20 overall record and a 4-14 mark in league play. The Keydets won two out of their last four games to end the season with wins over The Citadel and Chattanooga. VMI swept the season series against the Bulldogs. VMI is averaging 65.0 points per game while shooting 39.9 percent (662-of-1659) from the field and 32.1 percent (215-of-670) from deep. Opponents are averaging 73.7 points per game while shooting 44.5 percent (743-of-1669) from the field and 33.8 percent (233-of-690) from deep.
Freshman Bubba Parham leads the Keydets in scoring at 14.9 points per game. Parham has hit 57-of-173 (32.9%) from 3-point land and 91-of-114 (79.8%) from the free throw line. Austin Vereen ads 10.7 points per game and has hit 59 3-pointers at 35.8 percent.
-- UNCG --