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SU visits GSU men for SoCon opener

Southern Conference Basketball Standings
Team                SoCon  All

Western Carolina    1-0    8-8
Wofford                 1-0    6-7
Elon                       0-0    7-7
Georgia Southern 0-0    7-8
Furman                  0-0    6-7
Chattanooga           0-0    6-8
Appalachian State  0-0    4-9
Davidson               0-0    4-10
Citadel                   0-0    4-11
UNC Greensboro   0-1    7-9
Samford                 0-1    6-10

Today's Games   
    Samford at Georgia Southern, 2 p.m.
    Elon at Western Carolina, 2 p.m.
    Chattanooga at Furman, 4 p.m.
    Davidson at Wofford, 7 p.m.

    Georgia Southern is at a size disadvantage against just about everybody, and Samford is no exception.
    The Eagles (7-8) open Southern Conference play against the Bulldogs (6-10, 0-1) and 6-foot-8 forward Tim Williams today at 2 p.m., in Hanner Fieldhouse.
    Williams leads Samford in rebounds per game (7) and scoring (17).
    “He’s as good as anybody we went against all year,” GSU coach Mark Byington said. “He’s terrific. Extremely efficient is the only way to describe him.”
Williams shoots 63 percent from the floor and 76 percent at the free-throw line.
    The Eagles counter with a backcourt that scores in a variety of ways. Jelani Hewitt averages 21 points per game and Tre Bussey averages 18. Point guard Brian Holmes adds nearly 10 points each time out.
    With most of the offensive production coming from the guards, GSU still tries to bring a balanced approach.
    “A lot of times our scoring is on drive-to-the-basket layups rather than back-to-the-basket post moves. We need to find balance,” Byington said. “We’ve had games where we’ve shot the ball well, and that should be a strength of ours the way we’re put together, but at the same time, we need to attack the basket, and that will open up even more outside.”
    Marvin Baynham and Angel Matias are the team’s best producers in the paint. They combine for 14 points and 12 rebounds per game.
    Baynham, a senior, leads all forwards in minutes played, averaging 25 per contest.
    “I still think he can take a step higher, he’s got that capability to him,” Byington said. “Angel Matias has had some really good games for us. Any time someone steps up who’s not our guards, it makes us that much better.”
    Freshman Kyle Doyle is recovering from injury and is doubtful against Samford.
Regardless of the opponent, Byington wants the Eagles to let the game come to them.
    “We’re trying to rebuild and get this program going,” he said. “It’s challenging enough for us to take care of ourselves, and I feel like that’s the only thing we can control. That’s what we’re going to worry about.
    “It’s a new year for everybody. No team in the Southern Conference is getting an at-large bid, so right now everybody’s competing for seeding and everybody wants to get to be a SoCon champion. That starts for us on Saturday.”

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