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Eagles begin against Wofford
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Georgia Southern forward Marvin Baynham goes up strong against The Citadel during a Jan. 19 matchup at Hanner Fieldhouse. Georgia Southern begins Southern Conference Tournament play this morning against Wofford. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Three games in March.

     Georgia Southern coach Charlton Young talks a lot about the importance of playing the best basketball at the end of the season, and after a disappointing year that started with three players removed from the team for disciplinary or academic reasons, saw injuries dot the regular season and ended with five fewer conference wins than the previous season, the Southern Conference tournament is here.

     “We’re excited about the chance to be 0-0, have a clean slate,” GSU coach Charlton Young said. “You’re judged on postseason play, and getting to the NCAA tournament. We want to be the team to get us back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1992. We’ve had a ton of adversity and injuries to overcome, but we are the most dangerous team in the league. We’re the only team to beat Davidson and Charleston (during the regular season), so we know we’ve got to commit to rebounding and defense for the next four days.”

     The No. 9 seed Eagles (13-18, 7-11) open the tournament against No. 8 Wofford (7-11, 13-18) at 11:30 a.m., in Asheville, N.C., at the Asheville Civic Center.

     “They beat us twice. They beat us at home,” Young said about Wofford. “They want to keep you in a slow-down, grind-it-out game. We’re probably going to have to buckle down and win a game in the 50s. They’re good at keeping you in that type of ballgame.”

     The winner of the game will run into No. 1 seed Davidson (23-7, 17-1) on Saturday. The Wildcats are riding a 14-game winning streak, ever since they lost to the Eagles, 70-57, on Jan. 14 in Hanner Fieldhouse.

     Davidson put a cherry on top of its regular season by beating GSU, 83-48, on Saturday.

     “If you’re going to win it, you’ve got to beat the best, and they’re the best team in the league right now,” Young said about Davidson.

     The Eagles are without point guard Brian Holmes, who suffered a season ending injury in a Feb. 23 win over Furman

     “Losing him for the season on Senior Night was huge,” Young said. “We’re trying to find the best way to play without him.”

     Eric Ferguson, the team’s leader in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals, has been fighting a nagging knee injury and hasn’t started since Feb. 9. He’s come off the bench and played through pain in the last six games.

     “Eric hasn’t complained one bit,” Young said. “I’m proud of him. He’s fought, he’s had to get fluid taken out of his knee a couple times these last couple of weeks. He’s just gone out and tried to play through it.”

 

     Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.