UNC Greensboro (7-8) at Western Carolina (7-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 2, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ramsey Center (7,826) -- Cullowhee, North Carolina. Television: None. Home Record: UNCG 5-3, WCU 5-0. Away Record: UNCG 1-3, WCU 1-7. Neutral Record: UNCG 1-2, WCU 1-1. Conference Record: UNCG 0-0, WCU 0-0. Series Record: Western Carolina leads, 26-16.
GAME NOTES: Western Carolina went perfect at home in non-conference action and hopes that trend continues Thursday when the Catamounts open Southern Conference play against UNC Greensboro.
Western Carolina has won all five of its home tilts, including a 106-72 thrashing of Milligan College on Monday behind a terrific 40-point explosion from Trey Sumler, who shot 13-of-21 from the field and a scorching 7-of-10 from behind the arc.
Sumler leads the Catamounts and ranks third in the SoCon in scoring at 19.8 points per game. Sumler has shown he's a prolific shooter, connecting on 43.1 percent of his 3-point attempts and 84.4 percent of his free throws. He also tops on the team in assists (3.7 apg) and rebounding (4.6 rpg). Brandon Boggs and Tom Tankelewicz are both averaging just over 10 ppg, while James Sinclair is contributing 9.2 ppg despite shooting just 35 percent from the floor.
UNC Greensboro had a strong end to its non-conference slate despite losing two of its last three games. The Spartans faced three consecutive ACC opponents, first losing to Wake Forest in a close game prior to a hard-fought road win against Virginia Tech. The Spartans then came home and gave NC State a run for its money before ultimately falling, 68-64, after scoring just three points over the final four minutes. UNCG also missed 11 free throws and committed 16 turnovers in the setback. Turnovers have been abundant all season for the Spartans, as they are giving it away nearly 15 times per game.
Kyle Cain leads the Spartans and ranks seventh in the conference in scoring at 15.8 points per game. His 8.6 rpg puts him second in the league in rebounding as well. Tevon Saddler, who scored 18 points off the bench against NC State, is second on the team in scoring at 12.2 ppg, while Kayel Locke is right behind at 12.1 after his team-best 19-point effort on Monday. Nicholas Paulos is nearly cracking double figures (9.7 ppg) thanks to a team-leading 38 3- pointers.
Both UNC Greensboro and Western Carolina played Virginia Tech this season, and while the Spartans posted a win over the Hokies, the Catamounts were an 18- point victim of Tech. Based on that, the Spartans have a great chance at handing WCU its first loss at Ramsey Center.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UNC Greensboro 65, Western Carolina 63
01/02 10:36:30 ET