ELON, N.C. – Former conference rivals meet on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 20, inside the Greensboro Coliseum as the Elon University men’s basketball team takes on the UNCG Spartans. Tip time is set for 2 p.m. Taylor Durham will have the call from courtside beginning at 1:30 p.m. on WPCM 95.1 FM/920 AM.
ELON VS. UNCG: Saturday marks the 38th all-time meeting between the Phoenix and Spartans. Elon leads the series, 24-13, and has won 10 straight against its Triad rival. Elon is 9-7 against UNCG in games played away from Alumni Gym and head coach Matt Matheny has a 10-1 mark against the Spartans during his tenure with the Phoenix. Elon’s last loss to UNCG was Jan. 28, 2010, in Greensboro when the Spartans claimed a 62-55 win. The Phoenix won both meetings against UNCG last season – a 72-66 win on Feb. 6 at Alumni Gym and an 81-68 victory on Feb. 19 in Greensboro.
LOOKING BACK: Elon fought for all 40 minutes against second-ranked Duke on Monday, Dec. 15, at Cameron Indoor Stadium, but the Blue Devils and Jahlil Okafor came away with a 75-62 win. Okafor led all players with 25 points and 20 rebounds. Luke Eddy scored 16 points for the Phoenix and led a second-half attack that outscored the Blue Devils, 41-39. Elon became the first non-conference team to outscore Duke in a half at Cameron Indoor Stadium since Vermont did so on Nov. 24, 2013.
LOOKING AHEAD: Elon wraps up a four-game road swing on Monday, Dec. 22, at Kennesaw State. Tip is scheduled for 3 p.m. and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN3.
FROM DEEP: With two three-point makes at Duke, Tanner Samson now sits at 175 in his career. Samson needs six more threes to pass Drew Spradlin for sixth in program history. The junior from Littleton, Colo., ranks first in the CAA in threes made with 36 (ninth nationally) and is shooting 42 percent from deep (59th nationally). Samson’s 86 attempts from beyond the arc is first in the CAA and ranks 11th nationally.
DEFENDING THE THREE: Elon leads the CAA in three-point field goal defense, holding the opposition to 26.9 percent from deep this season (21st nationally).
ON THE GLASS: Elon leads the CAA in defensive rebounds per game at 27.70, which ranks 29th in the nation. Elon’s 395 total rebounds are good for second in the league and 32nd nationally. The Phoenix is hauling down 11.80 offensive rebounds per game, which ranks third in the CAA and 124th in the country.
FREEBIES: Rookie Elijah Bryant has been stellar from the free throw line this season. Bryant is shooting 90 percent (27-of-30) from the charity stripe this season, which ranks 30th in the country and third in the CAA.
REACHING THE CENTURY MARK: Elon scored 100+ points in back-to-back games against Virginia University of Lynchburg and Central Penn last week, marking the first and only such occurrence since the 1982-83 season.
RARE COMPANY: Tanner Samson’s eight triples against Northwestern are tied for the second most in a single game since Elon made the transition to the Division I ranks. Matt Nowlin hit eight threes against UNCG on Feb. 7, 2004, while Drew Spradlin knocked down eight against Chattanooga on Jan. 23, 2010. Sebastian Koch hit eight triples last season against Central Penn. Koch holds the Elon single-game record with nine threes in last year’s game at 21st-ranked Colorado.
MARGIN OF VICTORY: Elon’s 56-point win over the Virginia University of Lynchburg Dragons on Dec. 2 marked the largest margin of victory during Matt Matheny’s tenure. The previous record was 50 points set in last year’s 114-64 win over Washington & Lee.
ON THE BOARDS: Elon’s 67 rebounds against VUL on Dec. 2 marks only the third time since 2005 the team has grabbed 60+ rebounds in a game. Elon hauled down 60 boards in last year’s game vs. Central Penn. In 2005, the Phoenix hauled down 67 against Guilford.
BRYANT HONORED AGAIN: Elon freshman guard Elijah Bryant earned CAA Rookie of the Week honors on Dec. 1 for the second time this season. Bryant averaged 12.7 points in Elon’s 2-1 week. Bryant scored a team-high 18 points and grabbed six rebounds in a 74-73 win over Morgan State, had 10 points in a 70-68 victory at Miami (Ohio) and also scored 10 in a loss to North Florida. Bryant was named to the Cancun Challenge Mayan Division All-Tournament team for his performance. He is the leading scorer among CAA rookies.
HEAD COACH MATT MATHENY: The 2014-15 season marks the sixth year at Elon for head coach Matt Matheny. Matheny enters Saturday’s game with a career record of 82-87. Matheny was voted by the Southern Conference media as the Coach of the Year and was a finalist for CollegeInsider.com’s Hugh Durham award in 2012-13, which honors the nation’s top mid-major coach.
ROAD TO BALTIMORE: The 2015 CAA Men’s Basketball Championship is scheduled for March 6-9 in Baltimore, Md., at Royal Farms Arena. Last year, Delaware topped William & Mary, 75-74, in the championship game to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.