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Eagles host first place Chattanooga
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    There’s less than a month before the Southern Conference tournament tips off, and the Georgia Southern men know it’s crunch time.
    With six regular-season league games left, the Eagles (16-8, 9-5) remain in sole possession of second place in the SoCon’s South Division and would get the tournament’s fourth seed if the season ended today. The top five teams receive first-round byes.
    But before tournament time, Georgia Southern needs to take care of business at home, beginning with tonight’s 7:30 game against Chattanooga (15-9, 10-4), the North Division leader.
    “At this time of the year, we feel like all of them are must-wins,” GSU coach Jeff Price said before the team’s workout Friday afternoon.
    The Eagles are looking to go 3-0 on its current homestand and avenge a five-point loss in a high-scoring game at Chattanooga last week. The Mocs rebounded from a surprising six-point loss at Western Carolina Monday by picking up a three-point home win over Furman Thursday. They’ve lost four of their last seven, two of the defeats coming against SoCon heavyweight Davidson.
    Meanwhile, the Eagles have won four of their last five but were disappointed by their defensive performance in a home win over Western Carolina Thursday. They also had another slow start but sank 17 of their final 20 free throws to seal the victory.
    “We’ve got to lock down and play defense for the full 40 minutes,” freshman Willie Powers said. “We need to play hard.”
    The Mocs are big up front and have the second-highest scoring offense in the league with more than 77 points a game. Like the Eagles, UTC favors a fast-paced style and is equipped with dangerous guards and a strong inside players.
    “They are built like a high-major team because of their size,” Price said.
    The Eagles will look to do a better job of handling UTC’s post players and containing senior point guard Kevin Bridgewaters, who put up 24 points against GSU on Jan 31.
    “They’ve got a lot of weapons,” Price said, adding that the Eagles need to be more concerned about themselves than their opponent. “We need to take care of the ball and defend better no matter who we’re playing.”
    The Mocs will try to keep close tabs on GSU’s leading scorer Louis Graham and point guard Dwayne Foreman, who hung 27 and 23 points respectively on UTC last week. Both were career highs.
    “We need this win,” Powers said. “We lost one (at Chattanooga) we felt we should have had. We really want this one.”

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