UNC Greensboro (2-5) at James Madison (3-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 16, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (7,612) -- Harrisonburg, Virginia. Television: None. Home Record: UNCG 2-3, JMU 2-2. Away Record: UNCG 0-2, JMU 0-3. Neutral Record: UNCG 0-0, JMU 1-1. Conference Record: UNCG 1-0, JMU 0-0. Series Record: James Madison leads, 4-0.
GAMES NOTES: Wes Miller will lead his UNC Greensboro Spartans against the team he got his collegiate playing career started with, when the Spartans collide with the James Madison Dukes at the Convocation Center.
As a freshman, Miller, now the head coach for the Spartans, played in 30 games for JMU during the 2003-04 season. Miller is now in his second season at the helm for UNC Greensboro and has not had a ton of success in year two. The Spartans are just 2-5 ,but are coming off an 84-54 win over The Citadel that wrapped up a four-game homestand. Both of the Spartans' wins have come at home with the team winless in two road contests. UNC Greensboro faces instate rival UNC Wilmington on the road next.
James Madison has also been on the losing end more often than not this season with an overall record of 3-6 after a brutal 83-82 loss in overtime to Richmond last Saturday. The game was decided on a free throw from Richmond's Kendall Anthony. The loss ended the first winning streak of the season for the Dukes at two games. James Madison is 2-2 at home this season but will travel for a pair of neutral site games against San Jose State and San Diego as part of the Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic.
In four previous matchups, James Madison has come out on top each time. The most recent victory came during the 1999-00 season when the Dukes posted a 77-65 win in Harrisonburg.
The Spartans thoroughly outplayed The Citadel last time out en route to a 30- point decision. The Spartans shot at a stellar 58.9 percent pace and hit 11- of-21 shots from beyond the arc. UNC Greensboro then limited The Citadel to 30.9 percent shooting and had a 41-19 edge in rebounding, while handing out twice as many assists (18-9). Drew Parker scored a team-high 15 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out four assists and nailed three shots from beyond the arc.
Even with a losing record, UNC Greensboro has been the best offensive team in the Southern Conference. The Spartans are scoring a league-leading 79.6 points per game on 43.9 percent shooting. UNC Greensboro also hauls in the 40.7 rebounds per game, to rank in the top-30 nationally. Where the Spartans have fallen short is on the defensive end as they are lit up for 78.4 points per game on 44.3 percent shooting. Trevis Simpson (19.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg) is the most reliable scorer for the Spartans. Simpson put in 14 points against The Citadel and has scored in double figures in every game this season. Derrell Armstrong (15.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg) has also scored at a high level, despite playing off the bench. Kayel Locke (11.4 ppg) is the third player scoring more than 10 points per game. Kelvin McNeil (6.9 ppg. 7.4 rpg) is the top player on the boards.
There were 13 ties and just as many lead changes between James Madison and Richmond last Saturday. The Dukes trailed 66-61 with 2:41 remaining but fought their way to a 68-68 tie in less than a minute after Andre Nation went 1-of-2 from the free-throw line. The Dukes then gave up five points from the free throw line including a pair with three seconds left to send the game to overtime. The Dukes then allowed Richmond to hit 2-of-4 shots in overtime and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe to surrender the decision.
James Madison also compares favorably to the rest of its conference on the offensive end, ranking second in scoring (67.2 ppg) while shooting at just a 43.0 percent clip. James Madison has a negative scoring margin (-4.2) by allowing 71.4 points per game on 47.3 percent shooting. The Dukes are also on the short end in rebounding (-1.9) by bringing in just 31.2 boards a game. Rayshawn Goins (13.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg) is the top offensive option on the roster and one of only two players bringing in more than 3.2 rebounds per game. Nation (11.0 ppg) is also scoring in double figures and along with Devon Moore (9.7 ppg 4.4 apg), forms a solid backcourt. The duo is especially pesky on defense with each collecting more than two steals per game. Andre Semenov (11.0 ppg) missed five games earlier but has turned it on in his three games back, especially from 3-point range (8-of-16).
UNC Greensboro has been the superior offensive team and has a sizable edge on the boards in this game. However the Spartans have not traveled well and may struggle against the Dukes especially if James Madison can take advantage of the Spartans' defensive weakness.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: James Madison 75, UNC Greensboro 72
12/16 10:34:17 ET