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Eagle basketball earns split with South Alabama
GSU bball
Georgia Southern forward Andrei Savrasov slams a dunk home late in the game as the Eagles rebound from their worst loss in Sun Belt history to knock off South Alabama 62-49 Saturday at Hanner Fieldhouse. - photo by JOSH AUBREY/staff

The Georgia Southern basketball team rebounded nicely from their worst conference loss since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2014, as they knocked off South Alabama 62-49 to improve to 7-4 overall and 1-1 in conference play.

On the heels of a 88-59 loss, Georgia Southern Coach Brian Burg was most frustrated with the way the Eagles played on the defensive side of the floor as the Jaguars shot over 50% from behind the three-point line, and 57% from the field. Saturday the Eagles held South Alabama to just 6-19 from three-point range, and 34% from the field.

“It was a great bounce back win for us,” said Eagle Coach Brian Burg. “Credit to our players for having a short memory and putting last night’s loss behind us. Our players bought into the game plan and sat down and guarded.

“Everyone knew after yesterday’s game we had to come out from the start and give our best,” said Eagle forward Andrei Savrasov. “We knew we needed to fight, and compete like we know we can, and that’s what we did today.”

For the second straight game the Eagles didn’t exactly light it up from the field, but they did manage to shoot 40% and also outrebounded the Jags 40-33.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well, but we found a way to defend, and play with our identity,” said Burg. “I think our guys were embarrassed last night and were looking forward to a chance at 40 more minutes to show what we are really about.”

While the Eagles dug themselves a hole Friday night, they jumped out to an early 8-0 lead on Saturday on a three-pointer by Elijah McCadden. The Jaguars eventually tied the game at 24-24 on a Michael Flowers three-pointer, but the Eagles took a 31-26 lead into halftime.

In the second half South Alabama eventually took their first, and only lead of the game at 39-38 on a Kayo Goncalves three-pointer, but the Eagles then went on a 11-0 run capped off by a three-pointer by Zack Bryant to take a 49-39 lead, and never looked back.

“For the first time this year we have a complete rotation,” said Burg. “We are still trying to find out who we are and get into a rotation. I felt our depth could help us on the second day, but overall, our defensive intensity is what helped us win this game against a quality ball club.”

The lack of depth by the Jags, and the quick turnaround seemed to affect South Alabama more than the deeper Eagles. South Alabama was 3-11 from three-point range in the second half, and shot just 28% in the final half. Burg feels the Eagles' depth helped Saturday, and should help them throughout the season, particularly on the second day of the Sun Belt back-to-back games.

“Having the ability to play a lot of guys who are willing to sacrifice will definitely impact games, especially the second of the two game schedules,” said Burg. “80 minutes of basketball in two days is a lot of basketball. The depth we have playing up to 10 or 11 guys is definitely going to benefit us in the Sun Belt Conference.”

“They only played six or seven guys so we knew it was going to be tougher on them today,” said Eagle guard Elijah McCadden. “We play 11 guys, and we sub a lot so we have fresh legs coming in and bringing energy, so if someone gets tired someone else can come in and bring that same energy.”

Next up for the Eagles they will head to Appalachian State for a Friday, Saturday matchup in Boone with Friday’s game at 6:00 and Saturday at 4:00.