Miller’s Brilliance Fuels UNCG’s 6th Straight Victory
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Beware. The Grinch is still around.
No, he didn’t steal Christmas from the Virginia Military Institute men’s basketball team, but he sure made life miserable for anyone in a visiting red uniform.
The Grinch, in this case, was 6 foot, 1 inch UNC Greensboro (UNCG) senior guard Isaiah Miller. His dominant defensive performance fueled UNCG’s 76-59 victory over VMI in a Southern Conference contest Saturday night at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Miller scored a game-high 25 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and finished with a season-best seven steals to lead UNCG to its sixth consecutive victory. It was also another special night for Miller, who reached the 1,700-career point plateau on a layup lob from Kaleb Hunter at 7:58 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Miller averaged 23.5 points in two UNCG wins this past week. which should put him among the discussion for SoCon Player of the Week consideration.
Miller, who has scored 1,711 points and recorded 277 steals for his career, had offensive assistance from Mohammed Abdulsalam (13 points, nine rebounds), Kaleb Hunter (12 points), and Jarrett Hensley, who microwaved all eight of his points in the first half.
Keyshaun Langley(Southwest Guilford High School) also finished with eight points. It was his 3-pointer that helped UNCG regain its equilibrium after VMI scored seven straight points to close to within, 42-41 with 12:39 remaining.
Once UNCG’s offense found a groove, Miller turned up the heat on defense.
Playing with a predator’s appetite for the ball and bouncing around the arena like a charged particle, the fleet-fingered Miller stepped into passing lanes, ripped the ball from unsuspecting VMI defenders, and tipped passes. Just consider Miller the new “Prince of Thieves.”
His defensive excellence is rooted in a combination of guile, intelligence, anticipation, quickness, and timing. He sets up opposing players and studies them as intently as a jeweler would while appraising a diamond.
Each of those traits were on full display against the Keydets, who had 20 turnovers.
The centerpiece of Miller’s dazzling display occurred in the second half when he picked a defender clean and raced in for a single-pump reverse dunk. It was the highlight of UNCG’s 16-0 run during a stunning 3:32 stretch that effectively knocked out the Keydets.
Miller shimmied upon gravitating back to Earth to a gaggle of smiling and hyped teammates.
The Langley twins gave the Spartans another reason to rejoice as they combined on a thunderous alley-oop dunk with Kobe finishing a pass with one-hand from Keyshaun that provided the perfect ending for UNCG.
VMI 9-9 overall, 4-5 SoCon
UNCG 12-5, 7-2
Inside the Numbers
This was UNCG’s ninth straight win over VMI.
UNCG limited VMI to 18 points over the final 12:39.
The Spartan defense threw a blanket over VMI by forcing 10 turnovers and holding VMI to 5-for-16 shooting to close the game.
VMI entered the game with the SoCon’s third-ranked scoring offense (81.7 points per game) and field-goal percentage (47.4).
The Spartans held VMI to 36.2 percent shooting from the field and 23.5 percent from 3-point distance (8-for-34).
UNCG’s defense also limited reigning two-time SoCon Player of the Week Greg Parham, the SoCon’s second-leading scorer, to four harmless points.
This was Miller’s 88th career game in double figures.
He has scored 20 or more points seven times this season and 28 times in his career.
This was the fourth game this season in which Miller finished with at least four steals.
Hunter reached double-digit scoring for the fourth time in UNCG’s last six games.
This was Abdulsalam’s third game in double figures this season.
He has finished with at least six rebounds in 13 times this year.
Abdulsalam has grabbed at least six rebounds in seven straight games.
This was UNCG’s 63rd double-digit victory in the last five years.
UNCG is 8-1 when holding opponents below 70 points.
The Spartans are 7-1 with the starting lineup of Abdulsalam, Hunter, Langley, Miller, and Allegri.
Bas Leyte tied his season-high with two blocked shots.
UNCG used a 10-0 run in the first half to grab the lead for good, 14-8.
VMI’s Jake Stephens finished with a team-high 18 points.
Sean Conway had nine rebounds for the Keydets.
UNCG visits The Citadel on Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m.