GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team opens the 2013-14 regular season Friday night as the Spartans host Triad rival High Point at the Greensboro Coliseum at 7 p.m. The two programs are separated by only 15 miles and will be opening the season against each other for the second straight season.
UNCG is offering free tickets to current military members, veterans and their families to the game in honor of Veterans Day. A military ID must be shown at the UNCG box office Friday, to claim the complimentary tickets to the game between the two local schools. Additionally, any TSA employees or airport security personnel are available for free tickets. The UNCG box office at the Coliseum is open one hour prior to tip-off.
Friday’s game marks the 47th season opener in program history and is the fifth straight year the Spartans have called the Greensboro Coliseum home. The Spartans are 15-31 all-time in season openers, but will be opening the season with a home game for the first time since the 2004-05 season (Montreat) and the first time they have opened the season at home against a NCAA Division I team since the 2002-03 season (Wagner). UNCG is 31-15 all-time in home openers in program history, including wins in the past two home openers over UNC Pembroke and Winston-Salem State.
The Spartans are led by sophomore forward Kayel Locke (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) who is the top returning scorer from last year’s team, averaging 9.9 points while grabbing 4.4 rebounds per game. Locke scored a team-high 30 points in the Spartans’ 104-76 victory over Lees-McRae in the exhibition game as he was 12-of-17 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free throw line.
Junior forward Kyle Cain (Chicago, Ill./Arizona State) will be making his first appearance in a regular season game for the Spartans after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. Cain scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the exhibition victory, as he was 7-of-12 from the field. He played in 60 games for Arizona State, making 40 starts, while averaging 6.4 points and 5.5 rebounds.
Senior guard Drew Parker (Houston, Texas/La Porte) returns for his fourth season as the Spartans’ most senior member of the team, having appeared in 94 games as a Spartan. Junior Nicholas Paulos (Salt Lake City, Utah/New Hampton School) looks to make a mark in the starting lineup this season after playing in all 31 games last year and finishing second on the team with 63 three-pointers made.
High Point enters Friday’s game as the preseason Big South Conference favorites as the Panthers are coming off a 17-14 record last year and returns all five starters. Sophomore forward John Brown is the Big South Preseason Player of the Year after bursting onto the scene last year averaging 16.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
Forward Allan Chaney also returns as a key cog for the Panthers after averaging 14.5 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game last year. Chaney connected on 51.3 percent (160-of-312) from the field last year and combined with Brown for a formidable duo on the inside for High Point.
Friday’s game marks just the ninth meeting between UNCG and High Point, despite the two schools only being separated by 15 miles. The Spartans trail the all-time series by a 7-1 margin against High Point with their lone victory coming Dec. 17, 1982 when they recorded a 57-46 victory at the Guilford College Tournament.
Last season, the Spartans dropped an 81-73 contest to the Panthers on the road in the opener. Former Spartan Trevis Simpson scored a team-high 18 points, including 14 in the final 4:04 of the game. Locke made his collegiate debut and scored 17 points off the bench, with 15 coming in the second half. Brown scored 28 points and grabbed eight rebounds in his debut as he hit 12-of-22 from the field and 4-of-6 from the free throw line while teaming with Chaney to score 43 points.
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