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Eagles looking to bounce back against undefeated Clemson team
louis graham vs duke 1
Louis Graham and the Eagles face Clemson tonight, their second ACC foe of the season. The Eagles hope to avoid two consecutive losses by upsetting the undefeated Tigers in Clemson. - photo by Herald File
CLEMSON, S.C. — If the Georgia Southern men’s basketball team can find any solace in Saturday’s defeat at Appalachian State, it’s the fact they played terribly and still had a chance to win.
    Against the Mountaineers, the preseason pick to finish second in the Southern Conference’s North division, the Eagles (6-4) came out flat, trailed by 12 at the half and dropped their league opener, 87-84.
    “For us to play on the road, miss (11) free throws, give up 18 offensive rebounds, have 20 turnovers and lose by three points — in my mind, that’s inexcusable,” GSU coach Jeff Price said. “That just shows you that if we shape up things a little bit, we would’ve had a great road win to start the league. But unfortunately, for the first 20 minutes of the game, we just didn’t play with the intensity we needed to play in a league game.”
    Junior forward Louis Graham said Saturday’s loss was a wake-up call for the Eagles, who step outside of the league for a 7:30 p.m. game at Clemson tonight. The 25th-ranked Tigers are a perfect 10-0 with road wins at Minnesota and South Carolina and home victories over SoCon members Wofford (90-66), Furman (67-58) and ASU (79-49).
    Clemson hasn’t played since Dec. 5 against the Terriers, but Price doesn’t see any areas the Eagles will be able to exploit.
    “They are just awfully good,” he said. “They are athletic, excellent rebounders, they can shoot it, they press a lot, they defend.”
    The Tigers average 77.7 points a game to GSU’s 73.6 and are led by sophomore guard K.C. Rivers’ 14.2 points off the bench. After being on the wrong end of a 40-28 rebounding discrepancy Saturday, hitting the boards hard tonight will be a top priority for GSU, not to mention dealing with Clemson’s pressure.
    “If we can do those two things, then I think we’ll have a chance to hang in there,” Price said. “But if we come in here and fold with their pressure and let them get second shots every other time down the floor, we are not going to have a chance.”
    With nine of their first 11 games away from the comforts of Hanner Fieldhouse, the Eagles are feeling a little road weary. But after tonight, GSU will play four straight at home.
    “It wears you out after a while,” Price said. “Even if you have days off, just being on the road constantly can mentally wear you out. I will be really glad to get this game over and get back home because we’ve been on the road so much that I think it’s caught up with us. We definitely have to do a better job next year of scheduling some games early where we can at least get off the road some.”
    Graham, who had his fifth double-double this season with 18 points and 10 boards at ASU, said the team was a little shell-shocked from Saturday’s loss, but no one is holding his head down. How the team responds tonight, however, could have a lasting impact.
    “This right here is going to test us to see if we can come back off a loss,” he said. “This is a game where you can gain confidence or it can kill your confidence. If we come out and play well, we have a chance to beat these guys, but if we come out and play terribly, it’s going to be another shot to the hole that we don’t really need right now. As a team, we are looking for a good outcome.”