Wednesday, January 1, 2014

UNCG (7-8) @ Western Carolina (7-8)

When: Thursday, January 2 7:00 pm
Where: Ramsey Center (7,826)
TV: None

Western Carolina Athletics

UNCG Stats
Last Game: NC State (L 64-68) Recap
PPG: 71.6
RPG: 37.4
APG: 13.3
Leader Points: Kyle Cain (15.8)
Leader Rebounds: Kyle Cain (8.6)
Leader Assists: Tevon Saddler (3.3)
FG %: 44.9
3 PT %: 35.5
FT %: 67.6

Western Carolina Stats
Last Game: Milligan (W 106-72) Recap
PPG: 74.5
RPG: 37.2
APG: 12.7
Leader Points: Trey Sumler (19.8)
Leader Rebounds: Trey Sumler (4.6)
Leader Assists: Trey Sumler (4.3)
FG %: 41.8
3 Pt %: 37.0
FT %: 68.2

Things just got real. This isn't about fine tuning things or finding the right combination of players on the court. This isn't about moral victories or asking to see energy for 40 minutes. This is now about getting wins and setting yourself up for that big run in Asheville in March. This is conference play.

For UNCG conference play starts in a play that they haven't won since February of 2008, the Ramsey Center on the campus of Western Carolina. The Spartans have been competitive at WCU, but they have always seemed to come up short. This year will be an equally difficult task. I have consistently ranked the Catamounts in my top 3 every week for "Scanning the SoCon". While they don't have any major wins to boast about, they do come into the game sporting four D1 wins (same as UNCG). They also have one of the very best players in teh SoCon in Trey Sumler. Sumler leads their team in just about every major category and he will be a tough cover for whichever UNCG player draws the assignment. I would expect to see Tevon Saddler attack Sumler when the Spartans have the ball in the hopes of getting him into foul trouble.

If the Spartans are going to be successful on Thursday night, they will need to continue playing very tough defense. They will also need to continue their dominance on the boards. UNCG currently leads the SoCon in rebounding margin. Wes Miller pointed out in his post game comments after NC State that he expected SoCon teams to try some different schemes against UNCG. He noted that these last three ACC teams have decided to use their shear size to match up with UNCG post players and play the defense "straight up". He admitted that he was expecting Locke and Cain to draw double teams in the post. I think how this game plays out will be determined by what teh big guys do when faced with these double teams. Will they be able to find open players and will tose players be able to make plays. Or will our favorite nemesis "Mr. Turnover" show back up. I think if players like Jordan Potts and Nicholas Paulos can make shots to burn the double teams, then UNCG has a real shot to steal a road game from a good ball club. Go Spartans !!!