The Georgia Southern Eagles have one last chance before the Southern Conference tournament to do something they’ve yet to do this season — win on the road.
The Eagles face Davidson today at 7 p.m. before returning home for three straight to close out the regular season.
“If we can get a win going into this three-game home stand,” said GSU coach Charlton Young, “it can really change our mindset and salvage our season in terms of giving us a chance in the conference tournament.”
Young has had to give seven first-year players — six freshmen and a walk-on sophomore — major minutes throughout the season, and has watched the confidence of the Eagles (4-23, 0-14 Southern Conference) go down as the losses have piled up.
“Three of them should be learning by watching,” said Young. “Two of them would probably be redshirted — Sam Mike and Tre Bussey — but they’re having to play minutes at critical times. Freshmen, once they make a mistake to lose the game, they think, ‘I just don’t want to turn it over again, much less make a play to win and be aggressive.’ It’s tough on a freshman to lose a game because he becomes shell shocked and he doesn’t want to be in that situation. A veteran player, he thinks about winning the game, making an aggressive play to get over the hump. Young guys are tentative because they don’t want to make a mistake. Seven of our guys are first-year players.
“They just don’t want to lose the game. You can’t play not to lose. You’ve got to play to win. We’re trying to get better at that.”
Davidson (13-13, 7-8) defeated the Eagles 73-66 Jan. 31 at Hanner Fieldhouse. The Wildcats shot 46.7 percent from 3-point range and capitalized on GSU’s slowed pace by finding shots in transition.
“They’re going to push it and they’re going to try to get quick 3s off,” said Young.” I think they feel like if they get in a half-court situation with us they won’t be able to get them off. The first time we played Furman they hit 13 3s. The second time they hit six. If you can hold Davidson to six 3-pointers, you have a chance to win the game.”
Georgia Southern has lost 14 games in a row, and looks to avoid tying the longest in program history. The Eagles lost 15 in a row spanning two seasons in 1979.
Both losing streaks began after wins against Georgia State.
In GSU’s 69-61 loss to Wofford on Feb. 12, junior point guard Ben Drayton scored a career-high 31 points, the highest team total since Antonio Hanson scored 39 on Feb. 25, 2010 in a 98-88 win over Elon at Hanner Fieldhouse, which was the last SoCon game won by Georgia Southern.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.