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GSU wallops Flagler, 101-67

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Posted: December 12, 2006 11:19 p.m.
Updated: December 27, 2006 5:00 a.m.
    Georgia Southern coach Jeff Price always has the same two things atop his team’s to-do list — play hard and play together.
    The Eagles did both Tuesday night, dominating an overmatched Flagler team in a 101-67 victory at Hanner Fieldhouse.     GSU rolled to the win behind a concerted effort to dominate the boards and pound the ball inside. More than half of the Eagles’ points were in the paint where GSU (6-3) outscored the Saints (4-5) 52-28.
    “We had a real decided advantage inside, and we talked before the game that that’s the No. 1 thing we wanted to take advantage of,” Price said. “We (wanted to) get it out and really push it in transition on the miss, and if we (didn’t) get anything in transition, we (needed) to get it inside. I thought we did a pretty good job of that.”
    Senior guard Jimmy Tobias paced the Eagles in their final tune-up before beginning Southern Conference play Saturday at Appalachian State, going 10 of 11 from the field and 2-for-2 on free throws for a career-high 22 points. Tobias’ 90.9 percent shooting for the game ranked second-best in school history.
    “Coach has been telling me to run the floor,” Tobias said. “Usually I don’t but today I did and my teammates found me.”
    Donte Gennie (14), Louis Graham (11) and Matt Fields (10) also reached double figures for the Eagles, who surpassed 100 points for the first time since a season-opening 116-73 win over UC Davis Nov. 12. Graham and Fields posted double-doubles with Graham grabbing a game-high 11 boards and Fields snagging 10. It was Fields’ first career double-double.
    If the Saints came to Statesboro with any hopes for an upset, the Eagles quickly squashed them, reeling off a 19-2 first-half run to put the home team up 39-18 after a Gennie layup 4:31 before the half.
    Freshman guard Blake Thompson later brought the home crowd to its feet with a highlight-reel worthy up-and-under with less than three minutes to play. Thompson followed the electric shot with a quick steal near the timeline before handing the ball off to Antoine Johnson, who dished it to Matt Ashe for a baseline jumper. Eagle fans responded with a roar, chanting their hopes for the score to reach triple digits, a mark the Eagles passed seconds later when Johnson hit a pair of free throws to provide the final margin.
    Johnson finished with nine points, while Ryan Hines and Anthony Marshall added eight apiece. Dwayne Foreman turned in a game-high eight assists for the Eagles, who finished with 27 assists on 43 field goals. GSU shot 57.3 percent for the game, while holding the Saints to 32.9 percent shooting.
    “We did what we wanted to do,” Price said. “We talked about putting more of a focus on rebounding the ball, and for the most part I thought it was good except for a couple stretches. It’s always good to see us shoot the ball really well. I thought we played really hard and played together.”
    Notes: Freshman guard Johntavius Rucker will miss the rest season (elbow injury) and take a medical redshirt, Price said Tuesday. …The Eagles didn’t attempt a free throw in the first half. …Saturday’s game time at Appalachian State has been changed to 5 p.m.

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.
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