UNCG's #12 goes up for a layup as a Clemson defender gets close.

Kyle Randall looks a little different this season. The 5’11” sophomore point guard’s carrying 15 more pounds of muscle. Which comes in handy when you’re battling against some of the nation’s premier guards, like College of Charleston’s Andrew Goudelock, not to mention Duke’s Nolan Smith and Kyrie Irving.

Duke is just one of the four Atlantic Coast Conference teams UNCG is hosting this season. They face three others on the road.

They faced a similarly challenging schedule last year – and then-freshman Randall learned a lot facing exceptional point guards. As Coach Mike Dement said, “It had to escalate his learning curve.”

Randall says he watched how the opposing guards – particularly the ACC guards – handled themselves on the court. He’s very bright, Dement emphasizes. “He’s a sponge.”

That’s true off the court as well. He was recruited by the Ivy League schools Harvard, Penn, Cornell and Columbia. He wants to be a lawyer, he explains. But he chose UNCG, where he was offered a full athletic scholarship, and where professors during a recruiting visit explained that a business degree can be just as attractive as a “pre-law” degree, for law schools.

Some favorite courses so far have been one on business ethics, taught by Wade Maki, and Microeconomics, taught by Dr. Michelle Sheran.

A favorite big man down in the lane has been Aloysius Henry, a junior college transfer who’s 6’10”. “A BIG body. A lot of good skills inside, left and right,” Randall explains.

As the SoCon schedule began, Henry had emerged as the team’s leading scorer. Randall, like last year, is the second-leading scorer.

Dement says Randall’s recruiting class was the first knowing they’d be playing high-profile competition in their new home court, the Greensboro Coliseum. That fact resulted in a strong class – and this season’s new class is at least as strong. Those two classes are combining with the sole senior, Brandon Evans, to be the team’s core this season. It’s a young group of players, with a bright future.

They’re taking on the best in the nation, in a historic arena. With a large student section right behind the bench this year, cheering them on. Randall says he just loves to play.

“It’s college basketball. It’s what we came to do.”

The highest profile game this season? UNCG hosts defending champion Duke Blue Devils, who are ranked No. 1. Tickets for that Dec. 29 contest are available – a great deal is the “4 for $44 Family Pack.” Purchase four tickets, four soft drinks and a large popcorn for $44. To purchase men’s basketball tickets, stop by the Greensboro Coliseum box office (where there’s no service charge), visit ticketmaster.com or call Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000.