GREENSBORO, N.C. - Sophomore guard Nicholas Paulos (Salt Lake City, Utah/Olympus) netted a career-high 26 points Wednesday, including a personal-best eight three-point field goals, to lead the UNCG men's basketball team to an 86-47 non-conference victory over Lees McRae at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Spartans improve to 3-10 while keeping the Bobcats winless at 0-12.
Paulos was one of three UNCG players to score in double figures as senior guard Derrell Armstrong (Mechanicsville, Md./Allegany CC) and freshman guard Kayel Locke (Owings Mill, Md./McDonogh) contributed 19 and 14 apiece. Additionally, Paulos' eight threes were just one off the program single-game record set by current Director of Basketball Operations Kevin Oleksiak. Falling just one rebound short of double figures was fifth-year senior forward Kelvin McNeil (Newport News, Va./Delaware) as he pulled down nine (two offensive).
The Spartans fired at a 61-percent clip in the second half (20-for-33) from the field to end the game at 52 percent while holding the visitors to 25 percent (6-for-24) and 30 percent for the contest. UNCG ended up with a 42-32 edge on the glass and corralled 11 offensive boards. Distributing the ball well, the Spartans racked up 18 assists while also forcing 21 Bobcat turnovers - converting those into 29 points and recording 12 steals.
Lees McRae held UNCG off the board until junior guard Drew Parker (Houston, Texas/LaPorte) drained a three and was fouled at the 17:33 mark. He knocked then down the ensuing free throw to give the Spartans a 4-2 advantage. A layup by Armstrong made the score 6-2 before the Bobcats scored five straight points to retake the lead.
UNCG scored nine of the next 12 points to build a 15-10 cushion before a jumper by junior guard Trevis Simpson (Douglas, Ga./Coffee) from the left wing afforded the Spartans their largest lead of the half, 21-13, with 8:08 on the clock. The Blue and Gold went in front by double digits at 25-15 when Armstrong dropped in a layup at the 5:47 mark and the teams would trade three-point baskets to leave the score at 28-18 approaching halftime.
Lees McRae did not go quietly in the last five minutes as a three-pointer by DJ Brown with 43 seconds left cut the UNCG lead down to single digits at 33-25. However, the Spartans had the last word of the period with Armstrong drawing a foul and knocking down a pair of free throws to send UNCG to the locker room up 35-25.
Locke led all scorers in the first 20 minutes with 10 points while Paulos added nine, including a trio of three-point field goals. On the glass, McNeil paced the Spartans with five rebounds, but the Bobcats ended up with the slight advantage - pulling down 20 rebounds to UNCG's 19. Charles Clarke was the top scorer for Lees McRae, dropping in eight points and knocking down both of his shots from three-point range.
UNCG limited the Bobcats to 33-percent shooting from the field. Both teams put up 30 shots, but the Spartans hit 13 as compared to Lees McRae's 10. Each squad hit four triples while the Blue and Gold drained five of its six free throw attempts.
A back and forth tussle ensued at the beginning of the second half, but with the score 35-27 after a jumper by Daniel Sepokas, UNCG blitzed the Bobcats with a 21-2 which was capped off by Paulos' sixth three of the contest at the 12:46 mark. By the time Brown knocked down a triple to end the onslaught, the Spartans were enjoying a 56-29 edge. Paulos was not done, however, throwing down a dunk to make the score 63-35 and force a Bobcat timeout with 9:59 remaining in the contest.
The three-point barrage continued as Parker nailed UNCG's 11th triple of the game to extend the advantage to 79-42 with 5:05 on the clock. Head coach Wes Miller then cleared his bench and the Spartans salted the game away.
UNCG returns to Southern Conference play Saturday, Jan. 12, traveling to Cullowhee, N.C. for a matchup with North Division leader Western Carolina. Tipoff at the Ramsey Center is set for 2 p.m.
UNCG/ WFMY News 2 Sports