GAME NOTES: The Georgia Southern Eagles try to extend their winning streak to a season-long three games when they welcome the Furman Paladins to Hanner Fieldhouse in Statesboro for a Southern Conference showdown.
Furman has experienced an up and down season en route to a 12-11 record and a 6-6 mark in the Southern Conference. After losing five of six games from the end of December through the beginning of January, the Paladins have turned things around, winning five of their last seven, including a 93-85 decision against UNC-Greensboro on Saturday.
Though Georgia Southern endured a 2-8 record during its non-conference schedule, it has been impressive in SoCon play, winning eight of 12 games and is currently tied for second in the league's South Division. The Eagles have won four of their last five, with their latest triumph coming over Western Carolina on Saturday, 68-65.
Furman claimed a 64-54 win back on January 19 in the first meeting between these two teams this season, and now leads the all-time series, 23-22.
Furman set a couple of season-high marks in Saturday's win by allowing the most points to an opponent and scoring its most points since it through a 98- spot on High Point on December 20, 2003. The game was an anomaly for the Paladins as they have the third-worst offense in the Southern Conference (65.4 ppg), and the second-best defense (65.1 ppg). The defense played better than the final score indicated, allowing UNCG to shoot just 41.9 percent from the field, but the Paladins found themselves in foul trouble all game as the Spartans shot 27-of-31 from the foul line to keep the game close. Brandon Sebirumbi led six Furman players in double figures with 20 points, matching a season-high. On the season, Sebirumbi leads the Paladins in scoring (11.1 ppg), rebounding (5.4 rpg) and field goal percentage (.526). Charlie Reddick (10.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and Richard Brown (9.2 ppg, 3.3 apg) both do their part in contributing to the offensive attack.
Though Georgia Southern's offenses ranks eighth (of 12) in the Southern Conference in scoring (67.2 ppg), the team has been successful of late behind some pretty nifty shooting, as it ranks first in both overall field goal percentage (.470) and three-point FG percentage (.352). The Eagles continued with the hot hand in the win over Western Carolina, making good on 57.1 percent of their field goal attempts and 7-of-16 tries from beyond the arc. Jelani Hewitt paced the squad with 18 points, and he nets 10.7 ppg for the season, but has been especially hot lately, averaging 19 points on 11-of-23 shooting from long range over the last three games. Eric Ferguson has been one of the most effective players in the conference this season, ranking fifth in scoring (15.6 ppg), fourth in rebounding (7.0 rpg) and fourth in field goal percentage (.570), while adding 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks per outing. Ben Drayton III scores 11.8 ppg, and Willie Powers adds 10.8 ppg while ranking fourth in the league in assists (5.5 apg).
Though both teams have been playing well of late, the home court advantage variety of offensive weapons should be enough to lift the Eagles to their third straight win.