GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team got off to a slow start Tuesday night and dug itself too deep a hole, as the Spartans dropped an 87-66 decision to visiting Presbyterian at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Spartans return to action Saturday night making their first-ever trip to North Carolina in a nationally televised game on ESPNU.=
“You have to give Presbyterian credit,” head coach Wes Miller said. “They did a good job in their zone making us take tough contested shots and we were stagnant and unaggressive on offense. We started pressing once we got down and they were the exact opposite – they were executing and being patient. Our defensive principles and our communication just were not very good tonight.”
The Spartans (4-4) connected on just 35.3 percent (24-of-68) from the field and hit 38.5 percent (10-of-26) from long range in the loss. UNCG also committed 15 turnovers Tuesday night and was out-scored 40-28 in the paint. Presbyterian conversely was strong from the field, hitting 63 percent (29-of-46) from the field and 57.1 percent (8-of-14) from long range.
Junior forward Nicholas Paulos (Salt Lake City, Utah/New Hampton School) led the Spartans with 22 points and seven rebounds. Paulos connected on 6-of-12 from three-point land in the loss and was the only UNCG player over 10 points in the game. Junior forward Kyle Cain (Chicago, Ill./Arizona State) posted his third double-double of the season and second straight with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Cain finished the night shooting just 4-of-15 from the field, including missing all six shots in the first half.
Jordan Downing led Presbyterian with 37 points in the victory, as he was 11-of-15 from the field and 10-of-10 from the free throw line. Danny Herrera added 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting while William Truss posted a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
After Paulos opened the game with a three-pointer, the Blue Hose ran out to a 13-3 lead with 13 unanswered points as Downing and Herrera hit a pair of early three-pointers. The Spartans started to settle in and kept the game in single digits at 26-18 when Cain hit a pair of free throws after another Paulos three-pointer. Presbyterian had an answer though, scoring 11 straight points to run the lead to 19 before entering the break with a 37-22 lead.
The Spartans 22 first half points were a season-low as they hit just 25.8 percent (8-of-31) form the field and only hit 28.6 percent (2-of-7) from the charity stripe in the opening 20 minutes. The Blue Hose on the other hand hit 53.6 percent (15-of-28) from the field, including 6-of-10 from long range for the 15-point advantage.
UNCG tried to claw back into the game on numerous occasions in the second half, but every time the Spartans made a run, Presbyterian was there with an answer keeping UNCG at bay. Freshman Clay Byrd (Connelly Springs, N.C./East Burke) tried to ignite the offense against the zone with a couple of three-pointers while sophomore Jordan Potts (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) also hit a couple of long range shots, but it was not enough to overcome the early deficit.
Sophomore forward Kayel Locke (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) fell just shy of a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds but he hit just 4-of-12 from the field. Freshman guard Tevon Saddler (Aberdeen, Md./St. Frances Academy) chipped in 10 points, five rebounds and four assists but only connected on 4-of-12 from the field.
- UNCG -