GAME NOTES: The Elon Phoenix will kick off their final road trip of the season on Wednesday, as they challenge the UNC Greensboro Spartans in a Southern Conference clash at Greensboro Coliseum.
Elon brings a great deal of momentum into this three-game road swing, which continues against Georgia Southern on Saturday. The Phoenix have won five straight contests, to climb to 15-11 overall and 8-3 in league play, which has them just a half game out of third place in the league standings.
UNCG has not fared as well lately, with setbacks in six of its last eight games. That includes an 82-77 overtime loss against Western Carolina in the first part of the Spartans' current three-game homestand, which wraps up this Sunday against Chattanooga. In terms of overall success, UNCG is 12-15, which includes a 5-7 league ledger.
The memory of the last bout between these two programs should be fresh, as Elon earned a 72-66 home victory against UNCG less than two weeks ago. The Phoenix have won nine straight over the Spartans, raising their lead in the all-time series to 23-13.
Jack Isenbarger and Sebastian Koch each scored 17 points as two of five players in double figures for Elon in its 86-69 triumph over Samford last time out. The Phoenix sank 53.4 percent of their shots from the floor, including 10-of-22 3-point trioes.
Elon is near the top of the SoCon standings for good reason, as the team has been productive on offense, ranking third in both scoring (76 ppg) and field goal percentage (.472), while accounting for more assists (13.6 apg) than any other team in the league. Moving the ball is a team-wide mission, as Austin Hamilton leads the way with three apg. Lucas Troutman (16 ppg, 6.5 rpg) is the top offensive threat and one of three players averaging in double figures. Koch (13.1 ppg, 5 rpg) and Ryley Beaumont (10.4 ppg) are the others.
Although they shot 47.4 percent from the floor, compared to Western Carolina's 43.9 percent, the Spartans still fell short in overtime. The difference came in three phases, as UNCG was outscored from beyond the arc (21-9), at the free-throw line (25-20), and in second-chance points (15-8).
UNCG has not had the same type of offensive success as Elon this season, the Spartans ranking sixth in the SoCon in scoring (71 ppg), field goal percentage (.442) and assists (11.9 apg). Kyle Cain (15.6 ppg, 9.4 rpg) anchors the squad from the frontcourt, leading in scoring and rebounding. Cain is trailing only Chattanooga's Z. Mason (9.6 rpg) on the boards among all SoCon players. He tallied 19 points and 12 rebounds against Western Carolina. Tevon Saddler (12.2 ppg) and Kayel Locke (11.7 ppg) are the next best options, with Nicholas Paulos (9.4 ppg) also making an impact as a scorer.
Elon has seemingly figured things out, while UNCG has been sliding down the stretch. Expect the Phoenix to remain hot as they find a way to win on the road.
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