The UNCG men’s basketball team officially returned to action against North Carolina A&T last Tuesday evening at Corbett Sports Center. The Spartans got off to a solid start to begin the game. They shot a solid 48 percent from the field in the first half, while also out rebounding A&T 21-15. Despite those efforts, UNCG was down 39-38 at the end of the first half.
However, the men’s basketball team picked up a more solid pace as the game progressed. The energy offensively and defensively kicked in the second half. Offensively, the field goal shooting was much better than the first half, increasing to 51 percent. The Spartans also put their defense to work, forcing nine turnovers in the second half and holding A&T to 35 percent shooting.
Ultimately, the Spartans were able to prevail despite shooting 17 percent from three-point range. Francis Alonso led all scorers with 23 points on 56 percent shooting. Isaiah Miller was explosive with his athleticism and defense, contributing 16 points and four steals, not to mention delivering an intensifying dunk with under two minutes to go in the second half that effectively sealed the win. James Dickey, looking to repeat as SoCon Defensive Player of the Year, put on a defensive show, racking up 10 rebounds and seven blocks. The Spartans walked away with a hard-fought win 74-66 in their season opener.
After a close battle with A&T, the Spartans hit the road once more. Friday evening, they traveled to Baton Rouge, LA to take on the 23rd ranked LSU Tigers.
Coming off an electrifying win against the Aggies, the men’s basketball team sought to carry the same energy to Maravich Center.
The Spartans got off to a good start and played solidly throughout most of the first half. However, their slim lead began to dwindle minutes before halftime. The Blue and Gold shot 50 percent from field goal range in the opening half, but headed into the locker room down by 13, 49-36.
As usual, UNCG would bounce back in the second half.
The Spartans’ three point accuracy increased greatly to a blazing 68 percent from behind the line. UNCG was efficient on offense, which is what brought them back in the game. Kyrin Galloway scored a career high-32 points on 86 percent shooting, including hitting eight three-pointers. He also racked up four blocks. Alonso put up 20 points and four assists.
Despite Galloway’s 32 points and the team’s energetic presence, the Spartans were unable to leave Baton Rouge with a victory. It would be late-game turnovers and mental errors that proved to be their downfall.
With less than a minute to go in the second half, the Spartans were down six, and had possession. An unfortunate turnover would cause the game slip out of the hands of the Spartans. Ultimately, UNCG fell to LSU in a close battle 97-91.
Overall, UNCG played well offensively, but Head Coach Wes Miller would surely have appreciated a better defensive performance from a team that rode its defense to a SoCon title last season. That defense was good in the first half, but wavered late in the second half. LSU out-rebounded the Spartans 34-18.
Yes, it was an unfortunate loss. In spite of that, we are only two games into the season.
There’s no need to panic after a hard fight with nationally-ranked LSU.
The Spartans definitely have time to repair the kinks in their armor, starting with the defensive strategies, three-point shooting, and late game-time decisions.
Two games into the season, it is evident the Spartans tend to start off a little sluggish in the first half, then turn the notch in the second half. Nevertheless, the team will continue to improve each game.
Against A&T, UNCG shot 17 percent from three-point range. This was a historically low mark for the Spartans. However, they made some quick modifications. In a close fight with LSU, the Spartans shot 57 percent from behind the arc.
UNCG’s home opener is this Friday at the Greensboro Coliseum against Johnson & Wales.