DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The University of North Georgia men's basketball team is returning to the Marvin Vanover Peach Belt Conference Tournament after a two-year absence and is hoping to change its luck in the tournament as the Saints are 1-3 in three previous trips.
In 2008, North Georgia made its first appearance in the conference tournament as the four-seed and defeated Armstrong Atlantic State University 88-86 before falling 88-83 to USC Aiken. That year, Jakirra Millsap was named to the All-Tournament team.
The following season, the Saints lost as the No. 5 seed to fourth-seeded Georgia College 81-76 in the quarterfinals and in 2010, traveled to Montevallo where they lost 88-79 in the quarters as the three-seed out of the West in the first season of divisional play.
The Saints (15-11, 10-9 PBC) enter the 2013 tournament as the No. 2 seed out of the West Division and are joined by Armstrong Atlantic and Georgia Southwestern State University as teams that were not in the tourney last season. Returning from last season's field are the University of Montevallo, the University of North Carolina Pembroke, Augusta State University, the University of South Carolina Aiken and Clayton State University.
North Georgia will take on Armstrong Atlantic (15-11, 11-8 PBC) at 3:00 p.m. in the second quarterfinal game of Friday, Mar. 8. The Pirates enter the tournament as the No. 3 seed out of the East Division after winning their last two games.
The two teams met just once this season, in the Saints' first league game of Peach Belt play, with North Georgia escaping Savannah with a 92-90 win on December 15. In that game, Ishmael Hollis and Antroine Williford each scored a game-high 23 points with Hollis netting four three-pointers off a 9-17 shooting performance from the field in 35 minutes of work. Williford went 8-12 off the bench in 31 minutes of action.
The Saints ended the regular-season boasting the second-highest scoring offense in the league and doubled their conference wins from a season ago. They are currently shooting 46.7% as a team and averaging 84.0 points per game with three players averaging in double-digits.
Hollis, who was chosen to the All-PBC Second Team, has led the team in scoring for much of the season as he has provided the Saints with both a large body under the basket as well as a fluid shot from anywhere on the court this season. He leads the team with 15.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, which is good enough for 14th and eighth in the PBC.
A native of Buford, Ga., Hollis is second on the team with 2.3 three-pointers per game off 39.7% shooting from beyond the arc while his three-point percentage has him 11th in the PBC. In 26 games, he has started 24 while shooting a team third-best 46.0% from the field but leads the Saints with 5.5 field goals per game.
Lamar Richardson has also provided the Saints with a hot hand from anywhere on the court as he is currently fifth in the nation in three-pointers per game and 27th in the nation in three-point field goal percentage. The junior from Riceboro, Ga. averages 14.2 points and 3.6 treys per game while shooting 41.5% from beyond the arc.
Scott Windom is the final player to average in double figures for North Georgia. The senior forward, who was a 2012 All-PBC selection, averages 25.3 minutes and 14.5 points per game while shooting a team third-best 51.3% from the field.
This will be Armstrong Atlantic's first trip back to the conference tournament in three years. The Pirates enter Friday's contest having won the last two games of the regular-seasons after dropping four in a row.
The Pirates average 79.0 points per game and shoot 43.0% from the field behind All-PBC First Team selection Aric Miller's 23.6 points per game. Miller's scoring average has him sixth in the nation in the category. He shoots 42.5% from the field and leads the team with 7.7 field goals and 4.1 assists per game in 36.0 minutes of work.
Miller and Kenny Bellinger, II are the only two players to have started all 26 games for the Pirates this season. Bellinger averages 28.5 minutes, 9.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
Williford is the team's second-best scorer with 12.3 points per contest and leads the team with 8.8 rebounds in 28.7 minutes per game.
The Peach Belt will provide live stats and a free live webcast of all the games from Thursday through Sunday. Additionally, Glory 1330 WGTJ will air all of North Georgia's games in the tournament. Games can be heard on the radio at AM-1330, online through the "Listen Live" link on the home page of the station's website, glory1330.com, and/or on any smart phone or tablet with the "Tune In Radio" application.
Prior to Friday's matchup between North Georgia and Armstrong Atlantic, Clayton State and USC Aiken will tangle at 1:00 p.m. Georgia Southwestern and UNC Pembroke will then play at 5:00 p.m. with Augusta State and Montevallo squaring off to close out the day's quarterfinal bouts at 7:00 p.m.
Follow all the action live at the official 2013 Peach Belt Conference Tournament site found HERE.