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Eagles outlast Texas State in Sun Belt opener
Georgia Southern's David-Lee Jones, Jr. celebrates as the clock runs out on the Eagles' come-from-behind victory over Texas State at Hanner Fieldhouse on Thursday, Dec. 19. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT/staff
Ike Smith scored a game-high 18 points and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 51.9 seconds left to lift Georgia Southern to a 67-64 men’s basketball victory over Texas State in the Sun Belt Conference opener for both teams Thursday night in Hanner Fieldhouse.

Smith’s triple from the top of the key off a Calvin Wishart assist gave the Eagles (7-4, 1-0) a 66-64 lead, and GS force turnovers on the Bobcats’ next two possessions. Quan Jackson was fouled with 7.5 seconds left and made 1 of 2 from the line, and Nijal Pearson’s 3-point try came off the rim as the buzzer sounded.

Eagles of the Game
David-Lee Jones Jr. came off the bench to score a season-high 15 points and added four rebounds, two assists and three steals. Wishart finished with nine points and a game-high five assists, and Smith finished 4 of 7 from long distance with all four coming in the second half.

Key moments
After rallying from an early 15-point deficit, Georgia Southern still trailed by eight with 6:44 to play but scored eight straight to tie the game and went on to take a 60-58 lead on a Smith jumper with 3:44 to go. Eric Terry scored a conventional 3-point play, and Pearson hit a long 3-pointer from the wing to put Texas State back on top 64-60 with 1:49 remaining.

Those would be the last points of the night for the Bobcats as Wishart nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key off an assist from Jones Jr., and after the Bobcats missed the front end of a 1-and-1 on their trip down the floor, Smith put the Eagles ahead for good.

GS missed its first four shots and committed four turnovers as Texas State (7-5, 0-1) jumped out to a 16-1 lead to start the contest. With the Eagles trailing 23-13 late in the half, Jones Jr. sparked a 16-3 run with a 3-point play, and Elijah McCadden’s floater in the lane gave GS a 29-26 lead.

Key stats
The Eagles held a 14-3 edge on the offensive glass and outscored Texas State 15-0 in second-chance points.

Next up

Georgia Southern continues its Sun Belt Conference opening weekend in Hanner Fieldhouse Saturday against UTA. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m., and the game can be seen on ESPN+.