The Battle of the Boro, brought everyone in the city out. The atmosphere was off the charts as you had the students tailgating, in the parking lot, hours before tip-off. Once the game was tipped, however, this game was over pretty quickly as UNCG jumped to a 42-20 halftime lead and finished the game-winning 83-50.
Moving forward, NC A&T has some pieces to work with, especially along the front line with Ronald Jackson. Also, Kam Langley really flashed in this one, with his ability to defend, blow-by and overall do the tough guy stuff.
UNCG should be on NCAA tournament watch, as they should challenge East Tennessee State for the SoCon title this year. They have a depth of talent, who all buy in defensively and they were creating offense. Sure it wasn’t as tight as you’d want, but it’s night one.
Here are the 3 takeaways from the game …
There may not be a better defensive tandem than Isaiah Miller and James Dickey
These are the Southern Conference’s two reigning Defensive Players of the Year award winners, and in watching them play it is apparent why. Dickey has a unique blend of length, size, quick feet and excellent timing which makes him a switchable terror on the defensive end. Miller has sheer determination, motor, strength, and ridiculous athleticism. On opening night Dickey finished with 3 blocks and 2 steals while Miller snagged 3 steals of his own. Miller will be a terror for opposing ball handlers to break as he defends 94 feet. He is a highlight reel waiting to happen as well, with his ability to turn the tight defense into offense and attack the rim with no fear. Dickey is as fine a rim protector as there is at his level and fits right into the modern game with his ability to switch, drop and move his feet.
Add in Keyshaun Langley, Malik Massey and Kyrin Galloway, all plus defenders at their positions, and this team will look to turn their defense into a lot of offense throughout the year. They did a great job switching defensive looks as well.
Keep a close eye on Ronald Jackson this Season
Jackson was the only player for NC A&T who was able to consistently find success against UNCG. The strong and explosive senior finished with 17 points on 5-8 from the field. He had a couple of huge dunks but showed a stick-to-it-ness on the boards (3 offensive rebounds) and in finishing that impressed. It is no surprise Jackson had 2 steals in the game as well as he is athletic with a motor. He has a lot of tools, ones that could see him sneak up with a very productive year and should see him land somewhere overseas making some money if he can keep up this pace.
Defense and Shooting was the Name of the Game
We can start with the defense here as it seems this will be what this team will hang its hat on all season. UNCG turned NC A&T over 19 times, with 12 steals and 6 blocked shots. UNCG was also able to snag 16 offensive rebounds, while out-rebounds NC A&T 46-33 on the night. Kyrin Galloway and James Dickey each had 3 blocks and 2 steals while Isaiah Miller had 3 steals and Keyshaun Langley finished with 2 steals. This team flies all over the floor on defense, and it is in a very controlled manner as Coach Wes Miller does a great job switching things up. As we mentioned above, UNCG is headlined by two of the premier defenders, but they have a team full of players ready to buy-in.
The shooting for UNCG however, is what can make a good team great. In all, they made 11 3s last night and shot 33% as a team. They had 7 different players who made a three in the game. When they are defending, which they always will, and knocking down shots, this team will be hard to beat.