Oleksiak's 28 gives UNCG lift in win over Central Arkansas
GREENSBORO, NC – Kevin Oleksiak’s season-high 28 points and a 19-0 run in the second half propelled UNC Greensboro to its fourth straight win, an 80-62 triumph over Central Arkansas in men’s basketball action Tuesday night at Fleming Gym.
With fellow three-point gunner Mikko Koivisto nursing a sore ankle and not in uniform, Oleksiak gave the Spartans (7-4) a much-needed lift, going 5-for-5 from three-point range. He entered the game averaging 13.3 ppg in UNCG’s three-game winning streak and boosted that number significantly on Tuesday. In the last four games, Oleksiak is now averaging 17.0 points during the Spartans’ current winning streak.
Prior to the current streak, Oleksiak averaged 6.9 points in the first seven contests.
“It has been a long time since it felt that good out there,” said Oleksiak, who finished just three off of his career-high that he set two years ago. “I got some open looks in transition and things starting falling for me. I’m just trying to be a team player right now. Whatever it takes for us to win, whether it is me scoring or someone else. Coach (Mike Dement) has been talking a lot about someone driving to the basket. We miss Ricky Hickman (who graduated last year) in that way; we don’t have a real slasher out there. So, I’ve tried to do some more of that lately to open things up and good things have happened for us.”
All-America candidate Kyle Hines added his 37th career double-double – tied nationally for most among active players with Rider’s Jason Thompson – with 18 points and 12 rebounds. He also extended his nation’s longest streak of game with 10 or more points to 61 straight games.
“We talked before the game about someone stepping up in Mikko’s absence,” said Hines, who became the 26th player in school history to play in 100 career games on Tuesday night. “We needed someone to take it up a notch to fill that void tonight with him on the bench. Kevin was a big lift – he got his average and Mikko’s average combined tonight. That was huge.”
Central Arkansas (10-4) was led by Nate Bowie’s 20 points, including five three-pointers. Durrell Nevels chipped in with 15 points for the Bears.
Kendall Toney, starting in place of the injured Koivisto, chipped in with 11 points for the host Spartans.
“I am proud of the focus we have had lately,” said Dement, who won the 295th game of his career and tied Fran McCaffrey for second place in school history with 90 wins at UNCG. “This streak hasn’t been easy. We’ve been on the road twice; we’ve done it around exams and holidays, a time that we haven’t played well around the last couple of years. It is hard to keep that kind of focus when you are playing just before going home for the holidays or you are just coming back from the holidays or exams, and we’ve been able to that.”
Hines got off to a quick start, scoring six points in the first five minutes of the game. But that wasn’t enough to offset Central Arkansas’ hot shooting at the outset. The Bears, who shot 65 percent in the first half and just 15 percent in the second half from the floor in a win over UMKC last Saturday, hit their first seven shots from the floor on Tuesday to take a 17-12 lead. The Spartans, however, recovered to score the next seven and regain the lead, forcing a UCA timeout.
The Spartans were able to weather UCA’s hot shooting throughout the first half – 60 percent from the floor – thanks to Oleksiak, who scored 20 in the opening half to stake the Spartans to a 46-37 lead at the break. The senior from Abington, PA was 7-for-8 from the floor in the opening half, including 4-for-4 from behind the three-point arc.
The Spartans began to pull away in the early second half. After missing six in a row from the floor at one point, Hines scored eight points in the early part of the second half to jump start a 19-0 run. The run was capped off by Oleksiak’s fifth three-pointer of the game to give UNCG a 63-45 lead with 12:49 left to play. The senior duo combined for nine of the first 13 in the run that ultimately put the game away.
Meanwhile, much the way they did last Saturday, UCA’s shooting went cold in the second half. The Bears missed 12 of their first 16 in the second half as the Spartan lead reached 23. The Bears went scoreless for more than six minutes and without a field goal for seven minutes. In fact, it was only after a ball headed towards the sideline deflected off of UCA coach Rand Chappel – and no official saw it – that UCA finally got back into the field goal column with a breakaway lay-up. Ironically, the Bears made four of their next six from the floor, which then cut the margin back to 14. But they would get no closer as UNCG went on its way to its fourth straight win.
The Spartans continue their three-game homestand on Saturday when they host Georgia Southern – currently the SoCon South Division leader – in a key Southern Conference match-up. The game will be televised regionally by SportSouth and will get underway at 3 pm.
FREE THROWS: The Spartans used their third different starting line-up of the season on Wednesday. It was necessitated by the absence of Koivisto, who sat out with an ankle injury that he suffered in the second half of the win at UNC Wilmington. Koivisto is listed as day-to-day. Kendal Toney earned his first start of the season in place of Koivisto... Central Arkansas entered the game as one of 46 teams in Division I with 10 or more wins this season... the game was the first-ever meeting between the two schools in any sport... in Hines’ first 99 career games, provided exactly one quarter of the Spartans’ scoring (1764 out of 7056 points).
UNCG 80, CENTRAL ARKANSAS 62
CENTRAL ARKANSAS (10-4)
Nate Bowie 6-15 3-4 20; Durrell Nevels 7-8 1-3 15; Landrell Brewer 4-5 0-0 8; Marcus Pillow 2-6 0-0 6; Brian Marks 2-5 0-0 4; King Cannon 1-3 1-4 4;Andrew Silverman 1-4 0-0 3; York Sims 1-8 0-0 2; Marc Winston 0-0 0-0 0; Payne Harding 0-0 0-0 0; Drew Haymaker 0-0 0-0 0; Imad Qahwash 0-0 0-0 0; Tk Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-54 5-11 62.
Kevin Oleksiak 8-10 7-8 28; Kyle Hines 7-15 4-6 18; Kendall Toney 4-8 2-2 11; Ben Stywall 1-3 5-5 7; Dwayne Johnson 1-4 3-4 5; Davor Galic 1-3 2-2 5; Pete Brown 1-3 0-0 2; Daniel Oliver 1-4 0-0 2; Darrius Sellers 1-1 0-0 2; Michael Mitchell 0-0 0-0 0; Mike Hardiman 0-0 0-0 0; Landon Clement 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-51 23-27 80.
Halftime: UNCG 46-37. 3-point goals--Central Arkansas 9-18 (Nate Bowie 5-10; Marcus Pillow 2-4; Andrew Silverman 1-1; King Cannon 1-1; York Sims 0-2), UNCG 7-16 (Kevin Oleksiak 5-5; Kendall Toney 1-5; Davor Galic 1-2; Dwayne Johnson 0-3; Ben Stywall 0-1). Fouled out--Central Arkansas-None, UNCG-None. Rebounds--Central Arkansas 30 (Brian Marks 8), UNCG 31 (Kyle Hines 12). Assists--Central Arkansas 9 (Nate Bowie 3), UNCG 8 (Dwayne Johnson 3; Daniel Oliver 3). Total fouls--Central Arkansas 19, UNCG 15. Technical fouls--Central Arkansas-None, UNCG-None. A-611
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