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UC game a wake-up call for GSU

Georgia Southern has a laundry list of adversity so far this season.

The Eagles (3-8) are 0-8 on the road, and have fought through injuries to two of the team’s four veterans. They have three true freshmen in the starting lineup and have gone up against several Big East teams — Notre Dame, South Florida and Cincinnati — and Texas Tech.

But Tuesday on the road against Cincinnati when GSU fell 99-54 to the Bearcats, there were no excuses made by second-year coach Charlton Young.

"What happened to us was the best thing that could have happened to our young team, for us to get smacked in the mouth and have to face the truth," said Young.

Young said the team, which plays six true freshmen, hasn’t adjusted to the level of play in Division I basketball. He challenged the team to work on defense in transition and in the paint, and look for more open shots on offense. The Eagles face South Alabama today at 2 p.m. at Hanner Fieldhouse.

"These are highly-recruited guys and each one of them was the man on their high-school team," said Young about the Eagles. "They’ve never had to defend every possession."

South Alabama (3-5) comes to Hanner under similar circumstances as GSU. They have limited upper classmen and play the same fast-paced type of game as Georgia Southern. Their losses — much like the Eagles — have come at the hands of high-major Division one programs. They fell to UAB, Southern Miss, LSU, Louisville and Alabama. Also like GSU, they are winless on the road.

The Cougars try to make a living with aggressive defense and scoring in transition.

"This is a team that’s very, very similar to us in how they play," said GSU assistant coach Steve Smith, "in both the style they play and their personnel."

The Eagles have a size advantage underneath, with 6-foot-8 forward Rory Spencer, 6-foot-7 forward Cameron Baskerville and 6-foot-7 freshman shooting guard Eric Ferguson on the court.

It’s up to point guards Ben Drayton and freshman Jelani Hewitt to run the offense, which has yet to mesh this season,

"I will give them this —the last couple of practices have gone really, really well," Young said about the days after the Cincinnati game "We’re still growing and learning every day. We’re fighting toward playing our best basketball in January or February."


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