CARROLLTON, Ga. - Gulf South Conference play begins Thursday for the West Georgia Wolves, as head coach Dave Moore and his squad head to Huntsville, Alabama to take on the Alabama Huntsville Chargers at 8:30 p.m. in Spragins Hall.
Thursday will be a return to Gulf South Conference play for UWG head coach Dave Moore, but it will be his first as a head coach. He was an assistant with Christian Brothers 16 years ago. West Georgia comes into the game with a 3-3 record after a 83-74 victory over Johnson C. Smith Saturday. Alabama Huntsville moved to 4-1 on the season on Tuesday with a 40-point victory over Trevecca Nazarene.
MARQUILL SMITH STAYS HOT
The story of the season thus far has been the stellar play of senior guard Marquill Smith, who is averaging 27.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game through the first four games of the year. Smith was named Gulf South Conference Player of the Week after averaging 27 points per game last week. That included a 30-point outburst against JC Smith. The game was the 23rd of his career with 20 or more points, and it he has eight double-doubles at UWG.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Basketball is a team game, and one man can’t do it all. That is the bigger story of the first four games of the year. Smith has been strong, but the play of the entire team has been paramount to the success on the court. Against Johnson C. Smith, that was at the forefront, as five different players scored in double-figures in the contest. Smith led with 30 points, followed by freshman Deng Nhial and junior Willie Barnes, who each scored 13 points in the victory. Aren Ulmer added 12 points to the tally and Jared Simmons put up his first double-figure effort with 11 points. It was the first time this season that five players have scored in double-figures for the Wolves.
DISHING OUT SUCCESS
In two of the last three games, Aren Ulmer has put up some very unique numbers for the Wolves. Against Benedict on November 17, Ulmer had eight assists and nine rebounds, nearly pulling off a very unusual double-double in the process. Against Johnson C. Smith on Saturday, Ulmer poured in 12 points and dished out 10 assists for his first double-double of the year. It was the first double-double with points-assists at West Georgia since the 2015 season.
There weren’t many opportunities for bench scoring for the Wolves on Saturday against Johnson C. Smith, as head coach Dave Moore used only seven players. Deng Nhial led the bench scoring with 13 points.
Nhial is currently leading the Wolves with 26 total points off the bench this season. Michael Zabetakis is second with 25, followed by Willie Barnes with 14.
The most that West Georgia has scored off the bench this season came against North Georgia on November 20 and also against Queens on November 14, when the Wolves had 19 points. Overall, UWG has scored 82 points off the bench out of 466 points.
With sophomore shooter Greg James sidelined, head coach Dave Moore needed a boost in three-point shooting against Johnson C. Smith. The Wolves were 10-of-18 from long-range, including three from Jared Simmons and two from Deng Nhial.
The most three-pointers in a game for the Wolves this season thus far came one week apart from each other. Greg James hit 7-for-11 on November 17, then Marquill Smith was 5-for-10 on November 24.
10 YEARS IN THE COLISEUM
This is the 10th season in The Coliseum, and the Wolves have played 125 games on the men’s side in the facility. West Georgia is 2-0 on the year and 85-40 overall in The Coliseum.
The biggest crowd in the history of The Coliseum for West Geogia basketball was more than 5,000 on February 18, 2012 against Valdosta State. The Wolves won that one 85-52 on a night when Gavin Field broke the UWG record for career three-pointers and joined the 1,000-point club.
Including this year’s roster, 85 players from West Georgia have played on the floor at The Coliseum in the 125-game history of the venue.
GSC WEEKLY AWARDS
Marquill Smith became the first Gulf South Conference Player of the Week in the 2018-19 season for his performance this past week and was named the winner of the award on Tuesday by league officials.
Smith has been putting up ridiculous numbers all year long and leads the GSC in scoring by a whopping four points per game at 27.2 ppg. Last week, he scored 24 in the loss at North Georgia, then turned in a 30-point performance in the win over Johnson C. Smith.
YOU KEEP WHAT YOU TAKE
Two UWG starters sit at or near the top of the Gulf South Conference in steals heading into the first GSC matchup of the year. Aren Ulmer leads the league with 2.5 per game and Marquill Smith is third with 2.0 per game.
Through the first six games of the year, Ulmer has at least one steal in every game, with a single-game high of five in the opener against Palm Beach Atlantic. He had three against Benedict and Johnson C. Smith as well.
In the team category with the Gulf South Conference, the Wolves are fourth in turnover margin and second in steals. In total turnovers, West Georgia is 10th in the league, averaging 16.7 per game, but the Wolves are forcing 17.7 turnovers per contest.
The steals category is a big contributor to that statistic, as UWG is picking up 8.57 steals per game as a team. That is driven by the combo of Ulmer and Smith, who are averaging a combined 4.5 steals per game on the year.