By Rob Daniels
GREENSBORO, N.C. – After a couple of firsts, the UNCG Spartans happily delivered a "Best Of" performance Thursday night.
The club shot 58.2 percent from the floor – its top effort this season or last – in winning its third straight game, an 87-75 victory over Georgia Southern at the Greensboro Coliseum. Coach Mike Dement's club followed its initial overall victory and first home triumph of the campaign by breaking the Eagles' disruptive full-court trap and finishing in resounding fashion.
"We just go by what coach says," freshman guard Trevis Simpson said, "and if we do, it looks pretty easy. It feels pretty easy."
Simpson and classmate David Williams delivered 14 points each as UNCG (3-15, 3-5 Southern Conference) racked up its highest point total since an 88-78 win over Furman on Jan. 9 of last year.
"They're growing up," Dement said of his team, which also got 13 points from Kyle Randall, 12 out of Korey Van Dussen and 10 by Brandon Evans. "Everybody can see that. Guys are knocking down shots and attacking the basket pretty well."
Because the Eagles shot pretty well themselves – 22-of-45 – some statistical oddities resulted. Georgia Southern claimed only 20 rebounds but went 26-for-32 at the foul line. In one stretch, the visitors scored at least one point on 11 of 12 possessions but shaved only seven points off a 17-point deficit in the process.
Eric Ferguson, the Eagles' remarkably athletic, 6-foot-7 freshman forward, authored two monstrous dunks and went 12-of-13 from the foul line, but Simpson and friends had answers. In less than a minute of the second half, they combined for three easy buckets after successfully negotiating the Eagles' trap. "We just handled it," Simpson said. "We didn't try to move it off the dribble; we moved it off the pass. We came to the ball and advanced it. And once we advanced it, we had 2-on-1 situations."
Simpson's alley-oop slam off a Williams feed with 9:59 left reminded both men of days playing on three Atlanta-based summer teams.
"Took us back to AAU," Simpson said.
"In AAU, did you go back down and foul right away?" Dement chided playfully.
That jocularity was in vogue because the offensive effort was so crisp. The Spartans' field-goal percentage was their best since a 59-percent effort at Georgia Southern on Feb. 7, 2009.
Randall had six assists to lead the club, which was credited with feeds on 21 of 32 field goals.
"Kyle's such a good point guard," Williams said. "He saw. He analyzed what was going on. He calmed down and got the team together."
Dement took issue with his club's difficulty in defending without hacking, but there wasn't much to complain about in general. Certainly the results have been more pleasant than they were until last week. They've had more victories in the past week than they had in the previous 325 days.
Their 67-50 lead with 10:19 left was their largest of the season.
The Spartans now get a week off before playing at Chattanooga on Jan. 27. In all, seven of their final 10 Southern Conference games are on the road.
"We can't rely on outscoring people," Dement said. "Tonight, I was very pleased that we had five guys in double figures. And if somebody has a great game within that, you might win pretty easily."
UNCG 87, Georgia Southern 75
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (4-16, 0-7 SoCon)
FERGUSON, Eric 6-12 12-13 24; DRAYTON, Ben 5-8 7-9 17; JAMES, Zuri 3-8 2-2 11; HEWITT, Jelani 3-5 2-2 9; BAYNHAM. Marvin 2-2 2-4 6; SPENCER, Rory 1-3 1-2 3; BUSSEY, Tré 1-5 0-0 3; BASKERVILLE, C 1-1 0-0 2; MIKE, Sam 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-45 26-32 75.
UNCG (3-14, 3-5 SoCon)
SIMPSON, Trevis 6-7 2-5 14; WILLIAMS, David 4-8 5-6 14; RANDALL, Kyle 4-9 3-4 13; VAN DUSSEN, Korey 4-8 2-3 12; EVANS, Brandon 3-5 2-3 10; PARKER, Drew 3-4 0-0 8; BRACKETT, Aaron 4-6 0-0 8; COLE, Brian 2-3 0-1 4; HENEGAR, Cody 1-1 0-0 2; HENRY, Aloysius 1-4 0-1 2. Totals 32-55 14-23 87.
Georgia Southern.............. 39 36 - 75
UNCG.......................... 43 44 - 87
3-point goals--Georgia Southern 5-12 (JAMES, Zuri 3-6; HEWITT, Jelani 1-2; BUSSEY, Tré 1-3; FERGUSON, Eric 0-1), UNCG 9-15 (EVANS, Brandon 2-3; VAN DUSSEN, Korey 2-4; RANDALL, Kyle 2-4; PARKER, Drew 2-2; WILLIAMS, David 1-1; SIMPSON, Trevis 0-1). Fouled out--Georgia Southern-None, UNCG-WILLIAMS, David; BRACKETT, Aaron. Rebounds--Georgia Southern 20 (FERGUSON, Eric 6), UNCG 31 (BRACKETT, Aaron 11). Assists--Georgia Southern 13 (DRAYTON, Ben 8), UNCG 21 (RANDALL, Kyle 6; VAN DUSSEN, Korey 6). Total fouls—Georgia Southern 22, UNCG 25. Technical fouls--Georgia Southern-None, UNCG-None. A-2461
- UNCG -