GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team enters the 2014 Southern Conference Tournament as the sixth seed and opens play Friday afternoon against 11th-seeded The Citadel. Game time is set for 4 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Asheville and will be televised on ESPN3 and the Watch ESPN App. Additionally, the game will be broadcast on 1320 WCOG AM and online at www.uncgspartans.com with Scott Pryzwansky and Darryl Kosciak providing the call.
Friday’s game will mark the 16th appearance for the Spartans in the SoCon Tournament. UNCG owns a 14-15 all-time record in the event and won the league title in 2001 while also advancing to the championship game in 2005. The Spartans have won at least one game the past four seasons in the SoCon Tournament, including the last two years since the event returned to Asheville.
This year, the Spartans are on the bottom half of the bracket as the sixth seed and will face 11th-seeded The Citadel in round one. The winner of that game will advance to the quarterfinals to face third-seeded Wofford. UNCG is 5-2 this season against teams on the bottom half of the bracket with a 1-1 record against Georgia Southern and Chattanooga and a 1-0 mark against The Citadel, Furman and Wofford. Conversely, the Spartans are just 2-7 against teams on the top half of the bracket, including 0-7 against all teams except Appalachian State.
The Spartans have won two out of their last three games entering the tournament, including a thrilling 73-71 come-from-behind victory Saturday night at third-seeded Wofford. UNCG connected on 78.3 percent (18-of-23) from the field in the second half against the top defense in the league as it out-scored the Terriers 44-33 in the final 20 minutes. Sophomore forward Kayel Locke (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) led four Spartans in scoring with 17 points as he was 6-of-8 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line.
Junior forward Kyle Cain (Chicago, Ill./Arizona State) leads the team in scoring at 15.3 points per game, which ranks ninth in the SoCon as he has scored in double figures in 27 of 31 games this year. Cain also leads the team and ranks second on the glass at 9.0 rebounds per game. He is second in the league with 11 double-doubles on the year and was named to the First Team All-SoCon earlier this week.
Freshman guard Tevon Saddler (Aberdeen, Md./St. Frances Academy) was named the SoCon Freshman of the Year this week after leading all rookies in the league in scoring at 12.4 points per game. Saddler also leads the team with 89 assists, 38 steals, 14 blocked shots, 140 free throws made and 210 free throw attempted. Locke rounds out the Spartans in double figures scoring at 11.5 points per game and adding 4.3 rebounds per game.
Redshirt freshman center R.J. White (Frisco, Texas/Frisco) has been one of the top post players in the league since February 1. White is averaging 11.1 points and 7.5 points per game over the last eight games off the bench. He earned SoCon Freshman of the Week honors this week after recording back-to-back strong games at Davidson and Wofford to end the regular season.
The Citadel enters the SoCon Tournament with a 6-25 overall record and a 2-14 mark in league play as the 11th seed. The Bulldogs closed out the regular season with back-to-back home wins over Samford and Georgia Southern after opening league play with 14 straight victories.
Forward Matt Van Scyoc leads the Bulldogs in scoring at 14.4 points per game and second on the glass at 5.5 rebounds per game. Van Scyoc is second on the team with 63 three-pointers, hitting 35.8 percent, while also shooting 86.6 percent (110-of-127) from the free throw line.
Ashton Moore is second on the team in scoring at 13.4 points per game while dishing out 112 assists. He leads the team in three-pointers with 64 and is hitting 40.8 percent from long range. Brian White, an All-Freshman Team selection, rounds out The Citadel players in double figures scoring at 11.5 points per game, while leading the team on the glass at 5.7 rebounds per game.
Friday’s game marks the 25th meeting all-time between UNCG and The Citadel. The Spartans hold a 17-7 lead in the all-time series, including six straight victories against the Bulldogs. Earlier this season, UNCG picked up a 69-65 come-from-behind overtime victory over The Citadel at the Greensboro Coliseum. In that game, Locke scored the game-tying basket with 3.7 seconds remaining in regulation.
Locke led the Spartans with 21 points and eight rebounds, including 16 points after halftime. He connected on 7-of-15 from the field and 7-of-9 from the free throw line. Cain added a double-double with 20 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. Moore led The Citadel with 21 points and five assists in the loss as he was 6-of-14 from the field, including five three-pointers. Van Scyoc added a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds as he hit 4-of-11 from long range.
- UNCG -