DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 4th, 3:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Timmons Arena (5,000) -- Greenville, South Carolina. Television: SoCon TV. Home Record: UNCG 6-4, Furman 6-4. Away Record: UNCG 2-10, Furman 5-7. Neutral Record: UNCG 1-0, Furman 0-0. Conference Record: UNCG 7-4, Furman 5-6. Series Record: Series is tied, 10-10.
GAME NOTES: The suddenly red-hot UNC Greensboro Spartans turn their attention to the Furman Paladins for a Southern Conference matchup at Timmons Arena this afternoon.
UNC Greensboro has won seven in a row to take over the top spot in the SoCon North Division under the direction of 28-year-old interim coach Wes Miller, a former standout on North Carolina's 2005 national championship squad who took over when previous head coach Mike Dement stepped down in mid-December. The improbable turnaround began after a 29-point home loss to Davidson on January 5, the Spartans' 11th consecutive setback, which dropped their record to 2-14 at the time. Their most recent victory was an 82-71 triumph over The Citadel on Thursday.
Furman is coming off a lopsided 71-53 home loss to first-place Davidson on Monday night to fall to 11-11 overall and 5-6 in league play. The Paladins had won four of their previous five outings and hope to get back on track today. However, they have dropped three of their last four home games.
The all-time series between these two schools is deadlocked at 10-10. The Paladins have won seven of the previous eight meetings at Timmons Arena.
The Spartans shot a season-high 53 percent from the floor in Thursday's win over The Citadel, closing out a perfect 5-0 homestand. Now, the trick is to try and keep the momentum going elsewhere, as they have gone just 2-10 on the road this season. Four players scored in double figures on Thursday, led by Trevis Simpson's 23 points and seven rebounds. Korey Van Dussen finished with 11 points and seven assists, while reserves Derrell Armstrong and Aloysius Henry scored 14 and 13, respectively. UNCG hit 8-of-20 three-pointers as a team and also controlled the paint, holding a 35-28 rebounding advantage to lead for nearly the duration. Simpson is the conference's second-leading scorer, pouring in 17.0 points per game. He is averaging nearly two three- pointers per tilt but is shooting a rather pedestrian 30.7 percent from the perimeter and launches more than six treys per contest. Armstrong is the team's only other double-digit scorer, tallying 11.4 ppg. He and Simpson have combined to shoot just 39 percent from the floor and have accounted for 40 percent of the team's field goal attempts, although they have certainly picked up their play of late.
The Paladins are shooting just 41.3 percent as a team, and their point differential is a dead-even 0.0 on the season. Senior Brandon Sebirumbi is the headliner, as he paces the squad in scoring (10.7 ppg) and rebounding (5.5 rpg) while shooting 51.4 percent from the floor. Over the last seven games, he is averaging 14.9 points and 6.4 rebounds. Sebirumbi is complemented by sophomore guard Charlie Reddick, who is tallying 10.2 ppg and is shooting at a 40.4 percent clip from the perimeter (46-of-114). Reddick has scored in double figures in each of the last five games. The Paladins are at their best when they are crashing the boards, as they boast a +2.5 rebounding margin entering today's tilt. They were out-boarded 41-31 against the Wildcats, who completely shut Furman down in the second half. The Paladins trailed 48-45 with 14:38 remaining, but they managed only one bucket over the next eight and a half minutes and shot just 4-of-22 the rest of the way as they were out-scored 23-8. Reddick was the only player in double figures for Furman, finishing with 13 points. Sebirumbi scored eight, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked a career-high four shots.
While the Spartans have been one of the league's feel-good stories over the last few weeks, they now face the task of trying to duplicate that success on the road. Furman has not enjoyed much of a home court advantage.