North Florida (4-8) vs. Georgia Southern (5-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 23, 6:15 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Orleans Arena (9,500) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: None. Home Record: UNF 2-0, GSU 2-1. Away Record: UNF 1-8, GSU 2-5. Neutral Record: UNF 1-0, GSU 1-0. Conference Record: UNF 0-0, GSU 0-2. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: After both teams won on Saturday afternoon, the Georgia Southern Eagles and the North Florida Ospreys will square off on Sunday in the final round of the Las Vegas Classic at Orleans Arena.
UNF has already endured two four-game losing streaks this season on its way to a 4-8 record, although several of those losses have come on the road against quality opponents, including at nationally-ranked Minnesota (87-59) and Memphis (81-66). After losing in the preliminary rounds of this tournament to Colorado State (83-55) and Portland (74-64), the Ospreys bounced back on Saturday with an 80-70 win over Cal State-Bakersfield.
Georgia State has performed very well in the tournament, registering an outstanding 78-73 road win over Virginia Tech in the opening round, and after a 62-43 loss at Bradley on Monday, it traveled to Las Vegas and took care of business against Mississippi Valley State, 63-52. Saturday's win upped the Eagles record to 5-6, and they have now won three of their last four contests.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs.
The Ospreys were able to break out of their funk against Bakersfield by putting together their best offensive performance of the season, making a whopping 63.4 percent of their field goal attempts while also going 22-of-31 from the foul line. Travis Wallace was nearly perfect, going 7-of-8 from the field on his way to 22 points, while also adding nine rebounds and a pair of blocks. Charles McRoy chipped in 15 points and four assists off the bench, while Parker Smith drained 3-of-6 from beyond the arc en route to 13 points. The outburst was uncharacteristic for UNF, which only shoots 42.6 percent from the field on the season in averaging 63.5 ppg. Parker Smith (14.7 ppg) is extremely reliant on the 3-pointer, as 41 of his 56 field goals have come from long range. Wallace (13.7 ppg) is the only other player to net double digits on a nightly basis, and his 4.7 rpg is a team-best for a squad that gets outrebounded by more than eight boards per contest.
The Eagles cruised in their win over MVSU, leading by as many as 16 points while never trailing. The offensive performance was far from ideal, as they made a modest 44.7 percent of their field goal attempts and committed 20 turnovers, but they were able to make up for it by going 20-of-26 from the foul line and winning the rebounding battle, 40-29. Eric Ferguson led the way with 19 points on 8-of-11 from the field. C.J. Reed was off the mark from the field (2-of-11), but was perfect from the line (8-of-8) and finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. Tre Bussey rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points. On the year, Georgia Southern only nets 60.9 ppg, which all but spoils an impressive effort on defense (62.4 ppg). Ferguson leads the team in scoring (14.5 ppg), rebounding (7.8 rpg) and steals (1.5 spg), while Reed (11.1 ppg) and Cleon Roberts (10.1 ppg) are both outstanding from 3-point range, combining to hit 43 long-range buckets at a 47.3 percent clip.
UNF was on fire in Saturday's win, but a repeat performance is unlikely against a Georgia Southern squad that tightens up on the defensive end. If the Eagles can get their usual contributions from Ferguson, Reed and Roberts, they'll be able to close out the tournament on a winning note.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia Southern 67, North Florida 61
12/23 10:33:22 ET