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GSU men open SoCon play with trip to App State today

    Every time the Georgia Southern Eagles walk in and out of their locker room, it’s one of the first things they see.
    Prominently displayed on a bulletin board adjacent to the front door is an article dated March 3, 2006, and a very direct reminder is written across it – “Don’t forget App.” The story beneath the message recounts eighth-seeded Appalachian State’s 74-61 upset victory over No. 1 seed Georgia Southern in the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference tournament.
    The Eagles (6-3, 0-0), who also fell to ASU in a 90-84 overtime loss in Boone, N.C., during the regular season a year ago, will get their shot at revenge today when GSU opens SoCon play on the road against the Mountaineers (6-3, 2-0). Tip-off is 5 p.m.
    “This is a big game for us, no doubt,” said senior guard Donte Gennie, GSU’s leading scorer at 13.7 points per game. “Everybody is coming in very focused.”
    Along with the message on the bulletin board, the Eagles have also been hearing plenty of reminders from GSU coach Jeff Price and his staff during practice this week.
    “App State has had our number for whatever reason, and we need to solve that,” Price said Friday afternoon. “Hopefully we’ll have a revenge factor. It’ll be a tough game. We are capable of winning, but you have to play well on the road.”
    Georgia Southern’s depth took a major hit Thursday when junior forward Matt Fields broke his right foot in practice. Fields, one of the Eagles’ biggest contributors off the bench, will have surgery Monday and could be out four to six weeks, Price said. Fields is averaging 10.7 points over the last three games and posted his first career double-double in GSU’s 101-67 victory over Flagler Tuesday at Hanner Fieldhouse.
    The Mountaineers are 2-0 in league play after road wins at The Citadel and the College of Charleston and are coming off a 93-53 home win over Brevard Thursday. ASU’s three losses have come on the road at Atlantic Coast Conference schools Clemson (79-49), Wake Forest (88-78) and Virginia Tech (69-37).
    The Mountaineers returned all five starters from last year’s team, including one of the SoCon’s top players, junior guard D.J. Thompson, who averages a team-high 15.3 points a game. Dwayne Foreman and Gennie will share time covering Thompson, “the one that makes things happen in their offense,” according to Price.
    “We need to pressure him and force him to make quick decisions,” Gennie noted. “Hopefully, he’ll have an off night from the 3-point line, we’ll force him to drive to the basket and (GSU forward) Louis (Graham) will get some blocks.”
    Price is hoping the Eagle offense will gain momentum from the Flagler victory when GSU shot a season-best 57.3 percent from the floor. Senior Jimmy Tobias led the way with a career-high 22 points.
    “Anytime you can shoot the ball well, you hope it’ll give you some confidence,” Price said.

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

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