UNCG visits PNC

To celebrate NYE, PJ, Derrick, and I took a trip to Raleigh to watch the Spartans play the Wolfpack. Derrick was conflicted, as a UNCG graduate student he felt the need to wear an NCSU shirt, but he did not go all out red! He also confused the man that sat beside hime by cheering for both teams.

The Spartans faced #23 NCSU without leading scorer Trevis Simpson, who is listed as injured. Without Simpson, Armstrong got his first start of the season. I’m not sure if the Pack knew that Armstrong’s hustle and drive for the ball belies his stature. He will out hustle anyone for the basketball!

The first half of the game was fast and furious, with lead changes that surprised the Wolfpack (or at least the fans that were sitting around us. The same confused fan that sat beside Derrick also had good things to say about UNC’s first half play in the concessions line.) The Spartans were playing hard and with Simpson on the bench, Wes was able to mix up the players on the court in new and unusual ways. Jordan Potts got plenty of time on the court as did Kayel Locke. This showed as UNCG had 32 points off the bench to NCSU’s 19. The hustle and team play shown by the Spartans in the first half was great. There was a behind the back pass by Van Dussen to McNeil that had all the UNCG fans in the house on their feet.

The Pack pulled away in the second half and used their size advantage to push UNCG into playing the game at their speed. UNCG never gave up with Kayel Lock scoring 21 points and Kelvin McNeil contributing his career third double double. The glaring stats for this game were UNCG’s 11.8% from three point range and only connecting with 61.5% of their free throws. NCSU made 44.4% of their threes and 77.3% of the free throws. While those numbers are less than stellar, they do not convey the hustle and drive I saw on the court tonight. UNCG lost by 21, but the Spartans were playing harder than that. The more experience this team gets playing ACC teams, the better they are going to be.

Of course, Wood and Leslie were strong forces on the court tonight, but the NCSU player I like to watch is is Howell. Is big and imposing and that beard is fantastic! Kayel Locke was matched up with Howell for most of the game and defended him head on. Locke also made some great over Howell’s head shots, so that match-up was fun on both sides of the court. Generally, the basketball in NC is in a GOOD place.