DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The University of North Georgia men's basketball team suffered its first two Peach Belt Conference losses of the season last week, falling 73-54 to the University of Montevallo before dropping a close 85-80 decision on the road to Clayton State University on Saturday.
Because of this, the PBC has been shut out of the national rankings for the second week in a row which has been rare since the league's charter season. North Georgia was the league's best shot at a top-25 slot prior to last week's losses after Augusta State University fell from 12th a few weeks ago.
The Saints are entering a grueling stretch that will see them play three games in the span of five days starting with a rematch on the road against Georgia College on Thursday, Jan. 17. The Saints will then open a four-game home stand that begins with a pair of perennial conference powerhouses in Augusta State University on Saturday, Jan. 19 followed by USC Aiken on Monday, Jan. 21.
Saturday's 3:30 p.m. game will be North Georgia's annual "Military Appreciation Day" with all current and former military being admitted free of charge with a valid ID. Monday's 7:30 p.m. contest against USC Aiken is being dubbed "YMCA Night." All children who wear their recreational league jersey to the game will be admitted for free, but parents will still be required to pay the normal ticket price.
Heading into their three games this week, the Saints will be looking to get back to their wining ways. Prior to their two losses, the Saints had won five-straight, including four games where they scored more than 90 points.
In the two losses, North Georgia shot 40% from the field and were held to season lows in points scored (54), field goal percentage (33.3%), three-pointers (one), three-point percentage (5.6%) and assists (five) by Montevallo.
Despite that game, the Saints are shooint 47.4% as a team including 38.3% from three-point range after bouncing back to connect on 11 treys in the Clayton State game. They are still the third-best shooting team in the conference behind USC Aiken (48.8%) and Montevallo (48.5%) and average 87.2 points per game which has them second in the conference to Francis Marion's 95.2 points per contest.
Ishmael Hollis is fourth in the league in points per game with 18.5 points and is eight with 7.8 rebounds per outing. He shoots 50.3% from the field and averages 3.0 treys per game as he shoots 48% from three-point range. He averages the most minutes of anybody with 33.2 minutes per game.
Alongside Hollis, Scott Windom averages 14.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while Lamar Richardson averages 13.2 points per game which includes 3.6 three-pointers per outing. Windom shoots 48.2% from the field while Richardson is a 41.7% shooter from three-point range.
Georgia College (6-7, 2-4 PBC) is currently in the midst of a three-game losing skid that started at the hands of North Georgia when the Saints earned a decisive 82-63 win inside Memorial Hall Gymnasium on Jan. 5. The Bobcats have also dropped four of their last five.
As a team, the Bobcats are shooting 43.4% from the field despite having dropped some very close games. In the most recent stretch of three games, the Bobcats have shot 41% from the field while their opponents have combined to shoot 46%. That percentage is raised by North Georgia's 50% shooting performance in the Jan. 5 game and brought down by Young Harris' 42.6% in the most recent loss last Saturday.
Scott Gerguson leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 15.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. He shoots 48.7% off an average of 6.1 buckets per game. He was the Bobcats' leading scorer in the game against North Georgia as he tallied 18 points off a 7-16 performance from the field and brought down eight rebounds.
Augusta State (8-3, 4-1 PBC) is currently tied with USC Aiken atop the East Division standings of the Peach Belt and was ranked as high as 12th earlier in the season. But a stretch that has seen the Jaguars go 2-3 in their last five games has dropped them from the rankings.
A perennial conference and region contender, the Jaguars enter this week's game with a home contest against Flagler College on Thursday before traveling to Dahlonega for Saturday's game.
As a team, Augusta State is currently shooting 44% from the field but that average drops to 31.9% from three-point range. The Jaguars boast four players who average double-digit points led by Ryan Weems who has averaged 15.2 points per game and has started four of 11 games so far.
Behind Weems, Harold Dobby, Devon Wright-Nelson and Devonte Thomas average 11.8, 11.5 and 11.0 points per game respectively with Doby and Wright-Nelson leading the way under the basket with 7.3 and 7.4 boards per outing.
Unlike the Saints' other two opponents, USC Aiken (8-4, 4-1 PBC) has won three of their last five games and will play Clayton State University and Young Harris College before traveling to Dahlonega on Monday, Jan. 21.
The Pacers are the best-shooting team in the conference at the moment as they connect on 48.8% of their attempts. They back that up with a solid perimeter game of 41.1% shooting from three-point range and average just over 36 rebounds per game.
Junior guard Ronald Zimmerman leads a quartet of players in double-digit scoring with 16.5 points per outing. He is 10th in the league and his 42.9% shooting from three-point range has him ninth as he averages 4.0 treys per game.
Santoine Butler and Re'Mon Nelson each average 13.8 points per game. Butler is good for 3.4 blocks per contest while Nelson averages 7.1 assists.
Paul Larsen is the final Pacer in double-figures with 12.1 points per outing. He shoots 61.6% from the field and leads the team with 7.6 rebounds per outing.
As always, all North Georgia's home basketball games can be followed live via live stats and a free live webcast featuring Craig Corbin and Mike Davenport located on the schedule pages on www.SaintsSports.com. Also, Glory 1330 WGTJ Radio will continue to broadcast live during games with Mike Wofford and Drew Harris on the call. They can also be followed at www.glory1330.com or through the Tune in Radio app.