January 10, 2013

Saints Atop PBC Standings Heading into Big Conference Weekend

DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The North Georgia College & State University men's basketball team is the only Peach Belt Conference school to remain unbeaten in conference action heading into this week's games and are receiving votes in this week's national poll.

Previously nationally-ranked and perenial powerhouse Augusta State University fell last Saturday as did fellow conference front-runner the University of South Carolina Aiken. The Jaguars fell to the University of North Carolina Pembroke while the Pacers' undefeated PBC record was blemished at the hands of Columbus State University.

That leaves the Saints alone atop the conference standings as they prepare for a pair of pivotol West Division matchups starting with last season's NCAA Division II runner up the University of Montevallo Falcons on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 7:30 p.m. The Saints will then travel to Morrow, Ga. where they will take on Clayton State University at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12.

Thursday's PBC doubleheader is being dubbed "Greek Life Night" but will also mark a milestone for North Georgia as the new University of North Georgia logos are unveiled to the public. At 8 a.m. that same day, a pep rally will be held inside Memorial Hall Gym to unveil the new UNG logos and word marks for the first time and everybody from the school and surrounding community is invited to celebrate the milestone and formal introduction of the University of North Georgia.

North Georgia (8-2, 3-0 PBC) is in the midst of a five-game winning streak and is one of the hottest teams in the nation at present. The Saints are fourth in all of NCAA Division II in scoring offense with 91.3 points per game and are second for three-pointers per game (11.1). The Saints are also 23rd nationally in three-point field goal percentage (.402).

As a team, North Georgia is tied with Montevallo for tops in the conference in shooting percentage (48.9%) and are third in the league in three-point shooting (40.2%).

Three players have worked their way into national standings highlighted by Christ Tanzy leading the nation with 7.4 assists per game. Fellow junior tranfers Lamar Richardson and Ishmael Hollis are also ranked in the top-10 in the nation including Richardson sitting third for three-pointers per game (3.8) while Hollis is ninth overall in three-point field goal percentage (.484). Hollis is also 21st in three-pointers per game (3.0).

Hollis leads the team and is fourth in the conference in points per game with 18.9 points per game and is seventh in the league in rebounds per game at 8.2. The Bufford, Ga. native shoots 51.1% from the field and is also third in the conference in three-point percentage shooting at 48.4%.

Richardson is the second-best scorer on the team with 14.4 points per outing while senior Scott Windom is close behind with an average of 14.2 points per game.

Freshman wing Corey Green continues to lead the league with a 71.4% shooting performance.

Montevallo (7-4, 3-1) enters the week on a two-game winning streak and was the national runner-up last season to Western Washington University out of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. They opened 2013 with a pair of wins over Flagler College and Lander University and are shooting 48.9% from the field and 40.5% from three-point range as a team.

Despite losing their two best guards from last year's team in Antoine Davis and DJ Rivera, the Falcons still have seven from last year's squad stepping up this seasn. Of the returners, forward Drico Hightower is the most notable as he averaged 8.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game a year ago. This season, Hightower is averaging 17.3 points and 8.3 boards per game while shooting 64.8% from the field which has him third in the league.

Behind Hightower, returning senior forward Marvin Fitzgerald averages a double-double with 14.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per game while newcomer Troran Brown averages 14.8 points per game.

Jonas Brown and Ryan May round out the players averaging double-digit points with 11.3 and 10.3. Brown is the Falcons' leading three-point scorer with 2.4 treys per outing and a 44.1% from three-point range while May is just behind with 2.2 per game.

Clayton State (6-5, 2-2 PBC) has not beaten North Georgia since the 2008-09 season, a stretch of seven games. The Lakers opened 2013 with a loss to Armstrong Atlantic State University before bouncing back with a four-point win over Flagler this past Saturday.

As a team, the Lakers shoot 45.3% from the field. While their 66.1 points per game has them last in the conference in the category, Clayton State is best in the league in defense as their opponents average 62.4 points per contest.

Omari Murray's 14.0 points per game and 63.4% shooting lead the Lakers in offense and the junior forward also averages 9.0 rebounds per game.

Behind Murray, Tony Dukes is second on the team with 9.9 points per game and leads the team with 1.4 three-pointers per game.

As always, all North Georgia's home basketball games can be followed live via live stats and a free live webcast featuring Craig Corbin and Mike Davenport located on the schedule pages on www.SaintsSports.com. Also, Glory 1330 WGTJ Radio will continue to broadcast live during games with Mike Wofford and Drew Harris and can be followed at www.glory1330.com or through the Tune in Radio app.