GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team returns home for a three-game home stretch, beginning Sunday afternoon as the Spartans host Southern Conference rival Western Carolina. Game time is set for 2 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum and will be broadcast on 1320 WCOG AM with Scott Pryzwansky and Darryl Kosciak providing the call. Additionally, the game will be video streamed online for free at www.uncgspartans.com.
The Spartans enter Sunday’s game with a 12-14 overall record and a 5-6 mark in SoCon play. Sunday’s game has pivotal implications in the Spartans’ quest for a first round bye in the 2014 SoCon Tournament, which go to the top five seeds. UNCG currently sits in sole possession of sixth place, a half game in front of Samford and a whole game in front of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern. The Spartans are two games behind the Catamounts with five to play so Sunday’s game will result in either just a one-game lead for WCU or a three-game lead for the Catamounts.
The Spartans are coming off a 68-56 victory at Georgia Southern Thursday afternoon as they out-scored the Eagles 38-25 in the second half. Freshman guard Tyrone Outlaw (Roxboro, N.C./Person County) was the offensive catalyst, scoring a career-high 17 points, including 11 in the second half. Outlaw connected on 6-of-9 from the field and hit a career-high five three-pointers in the victory.
Freshman Tevon Saddler (Aberdeen, Md./St. Frances Academy) added a strong all-around game with 12 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots. The Spartans received 45 points from freshmen or redshirt freshmen in the victory, accounting for 66.2 percent of their scoring, while the freshmen and sophomore classes combined scored 54 points total (79.4%).
Junior forward Kyle Cain (Chicago, Ill./Arizona State) leads the team in scoring at 15.3 points per game and on the glass at 9.2 rebounds per game. Cain was held in single digit scoring for just the third time this season Thursday in Statesboro as he has scored 10 or more points in 23 of 26 games. Saddler is second on the team in scoring at 12.7 points per game while also leading the team with 183 free throw attempts, 128 free throw makes, 79 assists and 32 steals.
Sophomore forward Kayel Locke (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) rounds out the Spartans averaging double figures at 11.9 points per game but has been held under 10 points for the past two games. Junior Nicholas Paulos (Salt Lake City, Utah/New Hampton School) leads the team with 63 three-pointers and is averaging 9.2 points per game. Redshirt freshman center R.J. White (Frisco, Texas/Frisco) is second on the team on the glass at 5.0 rebounds per game off the bench while chipping in 4.9 points per game. Over the last three games, White is averaging 7.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
Western Carolina enters Sunday’s game with a 14-12 overall record and a 7-4 mark in SoCon play. The Catamounts are just 3-10 on the road this season compared to 10-1 at home in Cullowhee. Western Carolina has downed Liberty, Georgia Southern and The Citadel on the road this season and is coming off an 83-73 loss at Chattanooga Friday night.
Trey Sumler leads the team in scoring at 18.0 points per game and has dished out a team-high 102 assists. Sumler is one of four Catamounts with at least 30 three-pointers made this season, hitting 53 on the year at a 39.3 percent clip. Brandon Boggs is second on the team in scoring at 11.2 points per game and has hit 30 three-pointers. Tom Tankelewicz leads the team with 55 three-pointers made while James Sinclair rounds out the Catamounts in double figures scoring at 10.9 points per game.
Sunday’s game marks the 44th meeting all-time between UNCG and Western Carolina. The Spartans trail the all-time series by a 27-16 margin and have won just one out of the last 13 meetings with the Catamounts. Prior to this 13-game stretch, the series was tied at 15-15. UNCG last defeated Western Carolina in the 2011-12 season with an 89-86 overtime victory at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Spartans have dropped the last four meetings, including a 72-51 loss in Cullowhee to open the Southern Conference season Jan. 2.
In that game, turnovers were the story of the night as UNCG committed 23 miscues in the loss. Western Carolina capitalized on those mishaps, turning the turnovers into 35 points as it notched 14 steals in the victory. The Spartans connected on 39.5 percent (17-of-43) from the field and just 2-of-7 (28.6%) from long range but attempted 17 fewer shots than WCU due to the turnovers. Western Carolina hit 27-of-60 (45%) from the field and 9-of-22 (40.9%) from long range. Cain led the way with 17 points and seven rebounds while Locke was the only other Spartan in double figures with 14 points. Sumler led Western Carolina with 16 points while Mike Brown came off the bench to score 13 points.
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