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Holmes in the mix, GSU faces UAB
Georgia Southern guard Brian Holmes (12) draws a foul on Wofford guard Indiana Faithfull during the first half at Hanner Fieldhouse in this Thursday. Feb. 21, 2013, file photo. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Georgia Southern (5-5) at UAB (7-2)
8 p.m., Birmingham, Ala.
TV: CSS, Radio: 106.5 FM

Monday's Women's Game
Wofford (2-5, 0-2) at Georgia Southern (2-7, 0-1)

7 p.m., 91.9 FM
Hanner Fieldhouse

Quick Notes:
    Georgia Southern Athletics and the Marine Corps will be collecting toys at the women's basketball game against Wofford on Monday in Hanner Fieldhouse, and distributing them to Toys for Tots for the holidays.
    Fans who bring a toy to the game will gain admission for $4, and the Marine Corps will deliver the donated toys to Toys for Tots.

Southern Conference Basketball Standings
Team                   SoCon  All
Davidson                 2-0    5-6
Chattanooga            1-0    7-3
Western Carolina    1-0    5-3
Furman                   1-1    5-5
Elon                         0-0    2-5
Samford                    0-0    2-6
UNC Greensboro      0-1    4-5
Wofford                    0-1    2-5
Georgia Southern      0-1    2-7
Appalachian State     0-1    1-7

Today's Games   
    Appalachian State at Radford, 7 p.m.
    Charleston South. at West. Carolina, 7 p.m.
    Chattanooga at Elon, 7 p.m.
    Wofford at Georgia Southern, 7 p.m.
    Samford at UNC Greensboro, 7 p.m.

    Georgia Southern point guard Brian Holmes returned to limited action on Dec. 7, in a 75-66 win at South Carolina State, after injuring his wrist on Nov. 23, at Old Dominion.
    Holmes, who is shooting over .500 from 3-point distance (11 of 21) and missed four-straight games, will get another hard look today as the Eagles face UAB on the road in Birmingham, Ala., at 8 p.m.
    “He’s been limited,” GSU coach Mark Byington said. “He’s so vital, and we’re trying to be careful. I worry about him being sharp because he’s had very little practice time, but we’ll see how it goes. He should be able to play unless there’s a setback. You can see the difference on our team with him on the floor and without him, how crucial he is to our success.”
    Georgia Southern (5-5) got a bit of a break from basketball last week as the team took finals. Byington said he expects the team to duplicate its academic performance from the spring semester, which saw the highest grade-point average in program history.
    But now, it’s time to get back to basketball.
    “It’s been a week ago, but it feels like a month ago, especially for the guys. Mentally, they’re tired. They put a lot into their academics the past week,” Byington said.
    The win at SCSU was the Eagles’ first true road win of the year, and Byington hopes the momentum carried through the extended break.
    “Any time you go into someone else’s place where they’re familiar and comfortable and you can disrupt that and get a win a game, it’s a great sign,” Byington said. “We’ve played good on the road and we’ve played poorly on the road. At Miami (in an 81-80 overtime loss on Nov. 11), we played good and had a chance to win, but we also had something like West Virginia (in a 101-68 loss on Nov. 21) where we didn’t handle the things we should have handled.”
    The Blazers (7-2) will present a whole new challenge. UAB leads the nation in rebounding at 49 per game, while the undersized Eagles average only 36.8, though they have a slight edge over their opponents.
“We’ve done a good job of boxing out,” Byington said. “We’re ahead this year in the rebounding statistics while being undersized. They’ll be big from point guard to center and they bring size off the bench, so we’ve got to make sure our technique is right and we box out. And, hopefully we’ll get some over-the-back calls every now and then.”
    At 6-foot-4, Angel Matias leads GSU in rebounding. UAB’s roster features three players over 6-foot-8 while the Eagles have none. The Blazers are led on the boards by Rod Rucker and 6-foot-10 forward Fahro Alihodzic.
“They’re deep, they’re big, they’re strong and we’ll have our hands full,” Byington said.
    The Blazers haven’t lost at home this season and are on a three-game winning streak, including a 63-59 win over No. 16 North Carolina.
    “I think it’s the best team we’ve played all year,” Byington said.

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