Miller Sparks UNCG Victory Over Furman
GREENSBORO, N.C. — When the Southern Conference’s cognoscenti of coaches and media members consider Isaiah Miller’s legitimate 2021 Player of the Year candidacy, they should look to Wednesday’s Furman game for guidance.
Miller led the Spartans to a 64-58 decision in a heavyweight showdown that was a typical rock ’em, sock ’em SoCon affair at the Greensboro Coliseum Wednesday night before an awed-struck ESPNU audience.
Playing on national television against a highly-rated opponent in the Spartans’ biggest game of the season, the affable 6-0 senior guard provided a concise resume of his consistent excellence with 22 entertaining points, eight rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
More than the typically splendid statistics he registered, Miller was the undisputed leader of the Spartans’ focus group by supplying energy, power, and determination.
This was about revenge and getting even for Monday’s setback. Pure and simple. Forget about rankings and standings. This was personal.
Miller time arrived early for UNCG especially after it fell behind, 14-7, with 11:39 remaining in the first half.
Miller scored six consecutive points by attacking the basket with uninhibited fury, ripped loose balls from startled Furman defenders, and inspired his teammates with encouraging words. That got UNCG going.
He is special. As his career winds down, people around the country had better appreciate watching the SoCon Player of the Year candidate.
Perhaps, one reason people outside of UNCG take Miller for granted is that he makes the spectacular look routine. He makes what is difficult look easy. Plus, the Spartans are talented and enjoy an ocean of offensive options that not many other squads in the conference can boast.
That balance could be one reason why no UNCG player has won a Player of the Week award this season despite the Spartans being in first place with wins in 12 of their last 15 contests.
As usual, Miller had plenty of assistance. This is why UNCG has put itself in a terrific position with six games remaining.
Sophomore Keyshaun Langley(Southwest Guilford HS) scored 11 points and none were bigger than the rare four-point play he completed with four seconds remaining in the first half. That capped a 16-3 UNCG run and swelled its halftime advantage to 37-28.
As a showcase of its unlimited supply of excellence, the UNCG triumvirate of junior Mohammed Abdulsalam, junior Angelo Allergi, and senior Hayden Koval scored eight points each.
When Furman sliced a 13-point second-half deficit to 59-56 with 3:41 remaining, Allegri made a 3-pointer on the Spartans’ next possession, recovered the loose ball when Abdulsalam tipped a pass on Furman’s next trip down the floor and took a charge. The game was special for Abdulsalam, whose sister was in attendance. It was her first time in the United States.
Furman 12-7, 6-4
UNCG 14-6, 9-3
Inside the Numbers
In holding Furman to a season-low point total and forcing 18 turnovers, UNCG’s defense was at its ornery and belligerent best.
UNCG has held seven straight teams below 70 points.
The Paladins shot 31.6 percent for the game and missed their final eight shot attempts of the contest.
UNCG shot 52 percent in the first half, finishing by making 11 of its last 13 baskets after a tough shooting start.
UNCG’s 1-for-10 shooting start to the contest fueled Furman’s 12-1 burst and an early 14-7 lead.
UNCG held the Paladins without a basket for the final 5:07 of the first half.
In ending the first half by scoring 16 of the final 19 points, UNCG made its final five shots and tallied the last six points.
This is the 19th time this season and the 91st in his sparkling career that Miller has scored in double digits.
Miller has scored in double figures in 36 of UNCG’s last 38 contests he’s played.
Miller has grabbed at least seven rebounds in eight of UNCG’s 12 Southern Conference contests.
Miller has 1,762 points and 289 steals for his career.
Miller has 19 steals over the Spartans last four games.
This was Miller’s eighth game with at least 20 points this season and the 29th of his career.
Langley reached double figures for the seventh time this season and the 17th time in his career.
UNCG attempted seven free throws in Monday’s loss to Furman, the Spartans had 13 tries from the charity stripe in the opening 20 minutes.
UNCG has held its last two opponents at home to 58.5 points per game.
This was UNCG’s only home game during a grueling stretch of which it is playing four of its next five on the road.
Clay Mounce led Furman with 19 points and 16 rebounds.
The Paladins had three players score in double digits earlier this week against the Spartans.
The Spartans visit Mercer Saturday in a game beginning at 2 p.m.