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Eagles prep for trip to GA State
GS Basketball
Georgia Southern's Elijah McCadden works against the South Alabama defense last weekend in Mobile, Ala.

The Georgia Southern men's basketball team has split four of their weekend Sun Belt series this year. For the third week in a row the Eagles earned a split with the latest being on the road at Troy where they lost the opener 68-56 and won Saturday’s contest 79-64. The Saturday victory snapped a seven-game home win streak and was the first home loss of the season for the Trojans.

“We had 19 turnovers and really struggled Friday night,” said Georgia Southern Coach Brain Burg, “We didn’t defend well, and our ball movement was poor. Saturday was a complete turnaround. The guys shared the ball, we defended at a pretty high rate and I was excited for the bounce back.”

In three of the Eagles four weekend splits, they have lost the Friday game by 12 points or more, and then turned around and won the Saturday game. Coach Burg feels the inconsistency can be attributed to having such an inexperienced team, and it is something he is trying to work on.

“We are in our first year, and trying to form the foundation of our program,” said Burg. “We talk about consistency each and every day, it starts in practice and carries over into the games. We know we have to value the basketball and we are trying to get a quality shot each and every time. We have to get back in transition defense and make the other teamwork in the half court. We want to continue to get better and be playing our best basketball in March.”

Georgia Southern currently sits 6-6 in Sun Belt play and are in fourth place in the Eastern Division. The good news for the Eagles is they are tied for the most wins in the division with six. With Appalachian in first place at 6-4 and Coastal and South Alabama tied for second the Eagles are definitely still in the mix to win the East Division.

“Any time you can be in almost mid-February and be in the mix you have to feel pretty good,” said Burg. “There is definitely room for improvement. We are still a work in progress, but I see our team getting better and we are excited about our opportunity to head up to Atlanta to take on Georgia State.

The Panthers were the preseason pick to win the East Division. Panthers roared out of the gates this year going 7-2 to start the season but were then derailed due to COVID issues. Since then, they are 1-3 and have had six games postponed due to COVID protocol. Currently Georgia State is 2-4 in Sun Belt play and are in last place.

“It’s been a tough year for them in terms of COVID protocol,” said Burg. “I know they will be extremely excited about the matchup with us. It is a rivalry game, and we are excited about that as well. We have the utmost respect for Rob Lanier and his program, and we think it will be a great matchup. 

The Panthers have a solid backcourt and one of the most impressive post players in the league in 6-9, 235-pound forward Eliel Nsoseme who is averaging 12 points per game and 10 rebounds per contest. The Panthers are led in scoring by the backcourt of point guard Justin Roberts (14 points per game, four assists per contest)  and shooting guard Corey Allen who averages 15 points and five rebounds per game and shoots 49% from three-point range.

“They have great length and athleticism,” said Burg, “Their guard play is off the charts and they have one of the best big men in the country. They are extremely versatile in the open court and are dangerous in one-on-one situations. “

“We have to make sure we share the basketball, and take care of the ball as well,” said Burg. “Not valuing the basketball has been our nemesis all season. We also have to do a great job of sitting back and guarding as a team. Both of us like to run the ball up and down the floor and it should be a great contest.”

The Eagles will head to Atlanta on Thursday for a 6:00 start, and then will host the Panthers Saturday at 3:00 at Hanner Fieldhouse.