GREENSBORO, N.C. - The UNCG men's basketball program opens its 54th year of competition Friday night as the Spartans travel 15 miles across the Triad to battle regional rival High Point in the 2012-13 season opener. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at the Millis Center and will be broadcast on 1320 WCOG AM and online at www.uncgspartans.com.
Friday's game marks just the eighth meeting all-time between the two Triad teams, despite the two campuses only being separated by 15 miles. The Spartans trail the all-time series by a 6-1 margin and the teams have only met twice during the NCAA Division I era. UNCG has dropped both games in the Division I-era, including an 85-72 loss Dec. 13, 2003 in Fleming Gymnasium in the last meeting. The Spartans lone victory over the Panthers came in the 1982-83 season with a 57-46 victory in the Guilford College Tournament.
The game will also mark the 54th season-opener in UNCG men's basketball history. The Spartans are just 16-37 all-time in season openers, including losses in the last four. Last season, UNCG opened at SEC member Tennessee and suffered a 92-63 loss to the Volunteers. The Spartans last won their season opener during the 2007-08 campaign with a 83-74 victory at Georgia Tech.
The Spartans are coming off a 102-74 victory over NCAA Division II foe Bluefield State in their lone exhibition game. Five different players scored in double figures, including a game-high 21 points from junior Trevis Simpson (Douglas, Ga./Coffee). Simpson picked up where he left off last season as he led the team and the Southern Conference in scoring at 18.3 points per game.
Fifth-year senior forward Kelvin McNeil (Newport News, Va./Delaware) made his first appearance as a Spartan and recorded a double-double in just 20 minutes of play. McNeil scored 15 points while grabbing a team-high 11 rebounds as he was one of two UNCG players to post a double-dip. Junior David Williams (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) also turned the double-double feat as he tallied 14 points and 10 rebounds.
UNCG was picked to repeat as Southern Conference North Division champions by both the league's head coach and media members in their respective preseason polls. The Spartans claimed the North Division title last season as head coach Wes Miller led one of the nation's top turnarounds last season. UNCG sat at 2-14 midway through the season when under the direction of then interim coach Miller the Spartans closed the year on a 11-5 run to capture the title.
High Point enters the 2012-13 season opener after recording a 96-62 exhibition victory over Mars Hill College. Newcomers Allan Chaney and Derrell Edwards each scored 16 points to lead the Panthers, while Dejuan McGaughy added seven rebounds and five assists.
High Point is coming off 13-18 overall record last season and an 8-10 mark in Big South Conference play. The Panthers were picked to finish third in the league's North Division in the preseason poll. High Point will have to replace their top two scorers from last season in Nick Barbour (20.4) and Shay Shine (15.6).
The Panthers are led by three seniors, including their top returning scorer and rebounding. Corey Law averaged a career-high 9.5 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per contest last season. Branimir Mikulic chipped in 5.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game last season.
UNCG/ WFMY News 2 Sports