WILMINGTON, NC Dec. 18, 2012 – The UNCW men’s basketball team hopes this year’s trend – four home appearances and four home victories – runs true to form Wednesday night when state rival UNCG visits Trask Coliseum for a 7 p.m. holiday tip-off.
Both teams are coming off road losses over the weekend. The Seahawks carry a 4-6 record into the contest and the Spartans are 2-6 this season, with the two clubs combining for a 0-9 ledger on the road in 2012-13.
“It feels good to be back at home,” said third-year UNCW chief Buzz Peterson, who stands 19-14 at Trask Coliseum over three seasons. “We hope the community will come out and support the team. We have to try to keep the guys focused because many of them haven’t been home in quite some time and they’re looking forward to seeing their families for the holidays.”
Senior workhorse Keith Rendleman did everything he could in Saturday’s 77-61 loss at Davidson, scoring 20 points and securing nine rebounds. The Iron Station, N.C., product was playing before a large contingent of family and friends and showed why he’s a contender for Colonial Athletic Association Player-of-the-Year laurels, scoring on a variety of buckets around the paint and sharing most of the scoring load for the Seahawks.
“Keith is always going to be there, we just need to get some of the other guys more consistent,” said Peterson. “We looked at the tape and the Davidson game might have been Keith’s best game. We just need to get him more touches around the basket.”
UNCG, coached by Wes Miller, has been productive offensively, averaging 78.8 ppg, but the Spartans are allowing 79.2 and have already dropped in-state games to High Point, East Carolina and North Carolina A&T. CAA member James Madison handed the Spartans an 85-73 loss last Sunday in Harrisonburg, Va.
Peterson said, “UNCG shoots more three’s than Davidson, so we have to be able to defend the arc. Trevis Simpson is a very talented, one-on-one player and we must do a good job on him. Wes plays a very up-tempo game and they’ll push the ball at every opportunity and try to score a lot of points.”
Simpson, a 6-4, 185-pound junior forward, paces the Spartans in scoring with 19.9 ppg and adds 4.4 rpg. UNCG shoots 43.1 percent from the floor, 34.8 percent from deep and 70.2 percent at the free throw line.
The two teams are meeting for only the fifth time and for the first time since Dec. 29, 2007. The Seahawks took the first game in the series in November of 1990, but the Spartans have reeled off three straight, including a 72-55 decision in the last meeting.
While Peterson and Miller are at opposite ends of the coaching spectrum experience-wise, the two do have something in common: they both have a UNC Chapel Hill pedigree. Peterson played from 1981-85 for the legendary Dean Smith and was a member of the 1982 NCAA Championship team. Miller played three seasons for the Tar Heels.
The Seahawks are playing their third and final Southern Conference opponent of the season after splitting games with Wofford (W 49-37) and Davidson (L 77-61). UNCW is 40-51 lifetime against the league and Peterson stands 79-28 (.731) against the SoCon.
Peterson, though, has been ultra-successful against the Spartans in his 15-year coaching career. He is unbeaten in 11 meetings with UNCG after playing the Spartans often during his previous stint at Appalachian State.
The Seahawks have two non-conference games remaining before embarking on the Colonial Athletic Association slate when Towson visits Wilmington on Jan. 2. Following Wednesday’s game with the Spartans, Peterson’s crew breaks for the Christmas holiday before returning to play on Dec. 29 at longtime rival Campbell.