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GSU men's basketball returns to Hanner tonight
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    After playing six of their first eight games on the road, the Georgia Southern Eagles (5-3) are just glad to be home.
    The Eagles return to Hanner Fieldhouse tonight to host Flagler in a 7:30 p.m. game, GSU’s last tune-up before beginning Southern Conference play Saturday at Appalachian State.
    Georgia Southern is coming off an 87-75 loss at Drake Saturday in the championship game of the Drake Regency Challenge in Des Moines, Iowa. The Eagles defeated Northern Illinois, 72-70, in the opening round Friday. Juniors Dwayne Foreman and Louis Graham were named to the all-tournament team, while fellow junior Matt Fields scored a career-high 16 points – 14 in the second half – and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds in Friday’s win.
    “We learned how to play hard,” Fields said of the tournament. “We played hard the whole time in both games. We’ve got a good team, very talented, and we played together and fought on the road in Iowa.”
    Eagle coach Jeff Price was pleased with his team’s overall performance, particularly its improved shooting, against mid-major competition. Despite being out-rebounded both nights, the Eagles played in two close games, which Price hopes will help the team in the long run. GSU also weathered a Northern Illinois surge after the Eagles took an early 14-point lead.
    “It’s easy to hang your head when you have a big lead and someone comes back, but it was good for our team to show some character,” said Price, who also praised his bench.
“We had some guys step up from a depth standpoint – Matt Fields and Antoine Johnson, Diogo Salazar,” Price said. “Those guys played really well, so we are starting to develop more confidence in our bench. That’s why you play those games.”
    The Eagles will now turn their attention toward the Saints (4-4), who have won three straight, most recently a 93-80 win over Johnson & Wales Saturday. Five Saints average double figures in scoring led by 6-foot-5 senior forward Sam Jozenville with 18.6 points a game. Based in St. Augustine, Fla., Flagler is currently in transition from NAIA status to Division II.
    “We use these games to work on our team and try to work on rotations, individuals and our offense and defense,” Price said. “We’ll definitely take the game seriously. I don’t think you can overlook anybody. We need to get better in this game, and it’s good to be back home. We’ve been gone a long time.”
    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.