By late Saturday afternoon, only one team will remain unbeaten in Southern Conference men’s basketball play.
Will it be a Samford team that has fought past injuries to win the first three SoCon games? Or will it be UNC Greensboro team that won two SoCon games on the road and knocked off Chattanooga at home on Wednesday?
It will be UNCG playing host to the first-place showdown, with tip-off slated for 3 p.m. CT on Saturday at Greensboro Coliseum.
Defense has been the Spartans’ calling card, particularly during conference play. Overall, UNCG is leading the SoCon in scoring defense (64.2 points per game) and field goal percentage defense (38.9 percent). In three SoCon games, the Spartans gave up 57.3 points per game, and opponents shot 37.1 percent.
Samford has slowed its pace of play without injured point guard Ques Glover.
“We’re playing slower. We’re playing bully ball on the blocks,” said Samford head coach Bucky McMillan. “When we have Ques, we’re really up and down offensively. When our strength is getting the ball inside, you can’t play as fast. You simply can’t do it. You have to be opportunistic to your matchup.”
That means working inside to 6-foot-9 Logan Dye and 6-foot-6 Jermaine Marshall. In conference play, Dye averages 20.6 points and six rebounds per game, while Marshall averages 18 points and nine rebounds. Dye is 20 of 30 from the field, and Marshall is 19 of 35.
UNCG can counter defensively with 6-foot-8, 220-pound Mikeal Brown-Jones, 6-foot-9, 255-pound Mohammed Abdulsalaam and 6-foot-10, 220-pound Bas Leyte.
Samford may have to pick up the pace, which they are comfortable doing if needed, even though they are quicker with Glover.
“I credit our team for being adaptable,” McMillan said. “We can play one game where we’re banging it out on the blocks, sitting in zone. We can play another game where we’re playing a bigger, more physical team, where we really got to race it up and down. I think with a full roster. We have a lot of ways we can play.”
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