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Eagles hoping to cure slow start woes
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    If it was as simple as going to the doctor and getting a prescription, Georgia Southern’s slow starts would have been fixed long ago.
    But curing first-half offensive woes isn’t quite so easy, and Eagle coach Jeff Price has tried just about everything from mixing up his lineup to various pre-game techniques and talks.
    “Believe me, if I knew the exact answer for it, then it wouldn’t be happening,” Price said. “I continue to say it’s my job to figure it out, and I’ll continue to work and try to figure that out.”
    The troubling trend continued Monday night in Cullowhee, N.C., when the Eagles found themselves in a quick 15-point hole before roaring back with a 15-1 surge to open the second half en route to an 11-point win over Western Carolina.
    Georgia Southern was in a similar position last Saturday, trailing a struggling Furman team by one at the break and using a 16-3 run at the start of the final period to secure the 62-53 victory. That game was at home, but most of GSU’s first-half lulls have been on the road. The Eagles have fallen behind by eight or more points in six of their last seven road games and have rallied back to win twice (Elon, Western).
    “We’ve had some awfully good second halves,” Price said. “We just need to be able to put two together. We are not going to be able to continue to dig holes like we are and beat good people.”
    Next up for Georgia Southern (14-7, 7-4) is tonight’s trip to Chattanooga where the Eagles face one of the most dangerous teams in the Southern Conference. The Mocs are 13-7 overall, 8-2 in the league and sit atop the SoCon’s North Division. They’re undefeated at home, coming off of a big win over a hot Appalachian State team and are probably as good as they’ve been in Price’s nine years at the helm, Price said.
    “(UTC) is just a really powerful, athletic, explosive basketball team,” he said. “They are really deep up front, have great size and are just a really, really aggressive basketball team. If we’re not aggressive and don’t try to take it to them, we could have some serious problems.”
    The 7 p.m. matchup marks the end of Georgia Southern’s four-games-in-eight-days stretch while the Mocs have been off since Saturday. Price isn’t sure if fatigue has contributed to his team’s slow starts and hopes they’ll be able to fight through any tiredness tonight. Nine of Georgia Southern’s last 12 games have been on the road.
    “It’s obviously a really tough game, and we are going to have to play extremely well,” Price said. “They are playing as good as anybody right now. They’re big up front, athletic, strong, shoot the ball well, and we are going to have to find some answers for all of those things.”
    Chattanooga’s inside-oriented game centers around 6-foot-7 junior forward Nicchaeus Doaks (13 points per game), whose 59.4 shooting percentage tops the SoCon charts. Junior guard Stephen McDowell — a South Carolina transfer — averages a team-high 15.8 points per game for the Mocs, the second-most accurate shooting team in the conference (47.4 percent).
    “They get to the basket, and they shoot it pretty good too,” Price said. “They really have the makeup somewhat of a high-major team with their size and speed.”
    The Eagles return home Monday to host UNC Greensboro, the start of a three-game homestand.

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.