GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men's basketball team begins a stretch of 16 straight Southern Conference games to close out the regular season Saturday afternoon as the Spartans travel to SoCon North Division leading Western Carolina. Game time is set for 2 p.m. at the Ramsey Center and will be broadcast on 1320 WCOG AM as well as online at www.uncgspartans.com with Scott Pryzwansky and Darryl Kosciak providing the call.
The Spartans, the SoCon North Division preseason favorite, enters the game with a 1-1 league record after posting a win over The Citadel, while dropping a game to defending league champion Davidson. UNCG enters the game leading the league in scoring at 75.4 points per game, but have allowed a league-high 78.9 points per game.
Sophomore Nicholas Paulos (Salt Lake City, Utah/New Hampton School) is coming off his best game of his career as he scored a career-high 26 points against Lees-McRae off the bench. Paulos fell just one three-pointer shy of tying the UNCG single-game record as he connected on 8-of-12 from distance in 24 minutes of action. Paulos averages 7.1 points per game as a reserve this season and is tied for the team lead with 26 three-pointers.
Junior Trevis Simpson (Douglas, Ga./Coffee) leads the team and the SoCon in scoring at 18.0 points per game. He has scored in double figures 10 out of 12 games this season, including four games of at least 20 points. Senior guard Derrell Armstrong (Mechanicsville, Md./Allegany CC) is second on the team in scoring at 15.9 points per game and has started the past three contests. Armstrong is shooting 50.4 percent (66-of-131) from the field this season.
Freshman forward Kayel Locke (Owings Mill, Md./McDonogh) rounds out the Spartans in double figures scoring as he averages 11.5 points per game, all off the bench. Fifth-year senior forward Kelvin McNeil (Newport News, Va./Delaware) leads the team on the glass grabbing 7.1 rebounds per game and helps the Spartans rank second in the SoCon in rebounding offense at 37.8 boards per game.
Saturday's game marks the 41st meeting all-time between UNCG and Western Carolina with the Spartans trailing the all-time series by a 24-16 margin. The Spartans are just 1-9 against WCU in the last 10 meetings and last won a game in Cullowhee during the 2007-08 season, a string of four straight losses at the Ramsey Center.
The past two years the two teams have met three times each, as the Catamounts have eliminated the Spartans from the SoCon Tournament both years. Last season, the teams split the season series with the home team winning both games, before WCU knocked the Spartans out with a 73-69 victory in the SoCon semifinals.
Simpson averaged 20.3 points per game against the Catamounts, including 26 in the victory at home and 24 in the tournament. Armstrong chipped in 16.7 points per game while guard Drew Parker (Houston, Texas/LaPorte) connected on 9-of-13 (.692) from distance in the three games. Western Carolina was led by former Catamount Keaton Cole who averaged 16.7 points while hitting 15 three-pointers. Trey Sumler turned in strong all-around performances against UNCG averaging 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.
Western Carolina enters with a 3-0 league mark as the Catamounts have defeated Furman, Appalachian State and The Citadel. WCU will be playing just its fifth home game of the season Saturday and owns a 3-1 record at home this year. The two teams have played one common opponent in The Citadel, with UNCG posting a 30-point victory at home and WCU notching a 17-point win on the road.
Sumler leads the Catamounts and ranks second in the SoCon in scoring at 16.9 points per game. He also leads the team with 59 assists and is second on the glass at 4.3 rebounds per game. Tawaski King is second on the team in scoring at 11.3 points per game and leads the team on the glass with 5.3 caroms per contest. Tom Tankelewicz rounds out the Catamounts in double figures scoring at 10.5 points per game and leads the SoCon with 43 three-pointers made.
- UNCG -