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Every game is going to be a grind
GSU goes for second SoCon win against Wofford tonight
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Junior guard Dwayne Foreman and the Georgia Southern Eagles will go for their second Southern Conference win against Wofford tonight at Hanner Fieldhouse. - photo by Associated Press
    Georgia Southern fans may have been a little spoiled last year.
    Led by Southern Conference player of the year Elton Nesbitt, they witnessed the Eagles dominate opponents and rack up numerous big wins, including a 28-point victory over The Citadel and a 25-point hammering of Furman. GSU also beat Chattanooga by 22, Elon by 18, Wofford by 16 and the College of Charleston by 12.
    But this is a new year and a new team. And as Eagle coach Jeff Price has maintained since November, these Eagles won’t breeze through their league schedule as they did last season.
    “This year makes you realize how special last year was when we were winning games by large margins at home and on the road,” said Price, whose squad will go for its second conference win when it hosts Wofford tonight at 7:30.
    “I continue to tell people that this league is really good and every game is going to be a grind. In conference play, you don’t see teams blowing other teams out. It just doesn’t happen, and I don’t think it’s going to be any different in this game. It’s going to be a battle, and it could easily go down to the end. Obviously we don’t want it to, but that can happen because it’s conference play.”
    Just how good is the SoCon this year?
    “This is the best the league has been balance-wise maybe since I’ve been here,” said the eighth-year coach. “The experience is good, and the talent is really good. Davidson lost six seniors, and their back at 4-0 again because they are just talented. You just don’t waltz into the league and beat everybody. I’m convinced that every conference game we play this year is going to be a battle.”
    The Eagles (8-6, 1-2) won a close one on Saturday, surviving two last-second attempts by Furman to secure a 72-70 home victory. Price was glad to see his team win a game that wasn’t decided until the final buzzer.
    “That can only help your confidence,” he said.
    Along with shooting a season-best 58.3 percent from the field, the Eagles grabbed 14 offensive boards and out-rebounded Furman 34-18, the Paladins worst total this year.
    “We feel pretty good,” said senior guard Jimmy Tobias, who had 11 points and a season-high nine rebounds in the victory. “We’re just going to take Saturday’s win, run with it and keep that same intensity.”
    The Terriers (5-10) have dropped all four of their league games, most recently a 74-71 home loss to The Citadel on Saturday. Wofford attempted 26 3-pointers in the loss, and Price hopes having played the 3-point-oriented Paladins just two days ago will help his guys tonight.
    “From a shooting standpoint, (Furman and Wofford) are very similar,” he said. “They really shoot the 3 well, and they’re going to shoot a lot of 3-point shots. Similar to what we had to do against Furman, we definitely need to be able to get out and defend their 3-point shooters.”
    Wofford is led by guards Shane Nichols (16.1 points per game), Eric Marshall (15.1) and Drew Gibson (14.0). The trio is “as solid as any backcourt in the league,” Price said. “They are young inside right now, but their guards have proven that they can play with anybody in the league.”

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