Georgia State (5-7) at Georgia Southern (5-7)
3 p.m., 103.7 FM
Saturday’s game is the 45th all-time meeting between the programs with the Eagles holding a 31-13 advantage.
Eric Ferguson has 482 career rebounds and can become the 10th player in Georgia Southern history with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in a career.
Georgia State freshman R.J. Hunter leads the Panthers in scoring with 15.6 points per game. Forward Manny Atkins is the team’s top shooter from downtown (41.7 percent), averaging 13.2 points.
Southern Conference Basketball Standings
Team SoCon All
W. Carolina 2-0 4-8
Samford 1-0 3-10
UNC Greensboro 1-0 2-8
Elon 1-1 7-5
Appalachian St. 0-1 3-8
Chattanooga 0-1 3-8
Team SoCon All
Davidson 2-0 6-5
Charleston 1-0 7-4
Wofford 0-1 6-6
Citadel 0-1 3-7
Furman 0-1 3-8
Ga. Southern 0-2 5-7
Samford at Wisconsin, 2 p.m.
Charleston at Vermont, 2 p.m.
Georgia State at Georgia Southern, 3 p.m.
Davidson at Richmond, 6 p.m.
Eric Ferguson didn’t much care about becoming the 39th Georgia Southern Eagle to reach 1,000 career points.
He would have rather had a different outcome on Sunday, when the Eagles lost, 74-56, to North Florida at the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic.
“I’d trade 1,000 points for that win,” said the junior forward. “There’s nothing like being able to win. I couldn’t even enjoy it. I didn’t even know I had 1,000 points.”
The Eagles (5-7) were cold from the floor, shooting just 31.5 percent and making only one 3-pointer. Meanwhile, the Ospreys drilled 12 3s and shot 53 percent from the floor.
Ferguson would rather win, and looks at the 1,000-point plateau as a team honor, not an individual accolade.
“It really didn’t mean anything to me,” he said. “I mean, I’m honored, but you can’t get to 1,000 without your teammates passing you the ball. I give all the credit to my teammates, since I got here.”
Head coach Charlton Young, who also happens to be Ferguson’s Godfather, doesn’t think the Statesboro native has come close to his potential.
“I want more from him,” Young said. “I want him to reach his potential. (1,000 points is) an unbelievable accomplishment. I don’t want that to be overlooked. I’m proud of him and proud of what he’s doing, but I’m going to continue to push him. We’re going to need more from him. We need more from Eric Ferguson.”
GSU entered the UNF contest with the chance to even its record before returning home to face Georgia State (5-7) today at 3 p.m., in Hanner Fieldhouse.
It didn’t happen.
In fact, despite having a better season through 12 games than they did during last season’s 3-9 start, the Eagles haven’t put together more than two-straight wins since a six-game winning streak in February.
“We’re sitting here at 5-7,” Young said. “We think we should be two or three games ahead of where we are. We’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way, and we think we’re getting better every game —with the exception of the last one.”
The Eagles were at their best in a 78-73 win over Virginia Tech (9-3) on Dec. 15, but have since lost two of three, with the lone victory coming against winless Mississippi Valley State in Las Vegas.
“We’ve got to improve consistency,” Young said. “When we play the game with intensity and effort, when we play the game the right way, we can beat anybody in the country. When we don’t, we can lose to anybody in the country. We’re not good enough to not play hard and play the game the right way.”
Ferguson has already forgotten about the Virginia Tech win and the tough losses. Getting prepared for the Southern Conference tournament is the only thing on the Eagles’ minds.
“All those non-conference games mean nothing,” Ferguson said. “We need to be strong in conference games. We need to get prepared for the ‘second season.’ Last year, we were 12-6 (in conference play). We just want to be better than last year. I think we’ve got a chance to come out and be top three, top two, or even first in the conference. That’s what we need to prepare for.”
The Eagles tied Wofford with the second-best SoCon record during the 2011-12 season (12-6), and after losing to Georgia State, 72-52, on Dec. 22, 2011, went on to close out the regular season at 11-5.
They hope to start another turnaround today, beginning with a little revenge against the “other” GSU.
“We’re going to take this one personally,” Ferguson said. “We felt like they really tried to beat us bad at Georgia State, so we want to come home with a chance to redeem ourselves.”
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.