GAME NOTES: In a potential first-round Southern Conference Tournament matchup, the Georgia Southern Eagles take on the Furman Paladins at Timmons Arena on Thursday night.
Georgia Southern currently sits in seventh place in the standings with a 5-9 record, while Furman is in 10th place at 3-12, meaning if the season ended today these two teams would square off in the first round. However, the season isn't over yet, as there are two games remaining for the Eagles and just one for the Paladins, including this one, and a lot still needs to be settled.
The Eagles are just one game behind UNC-Greensboro for sixth place, while the Paladins are one game behind Appalachian State for ninth place.
Georgia Southern enters this game having lost five of six. Most recently, the Eagles lost to Elon 66-61 on Saturday. Trey Bussey scored 16 points to lead Georgia Southern, which trailed for most of the contest. Jelani Hewitt added 13 points for the Eagles, who fell to 7-6 at home this season and now will be on the road, where they are just 4-10, for its final two contests.
Hewitt, the SoCon's leading scorer, averages 20.3 ppg. Bussey adds 15.9 ppg for the Eagles, who will be looking to win consecutive road games. Georgia Southern won at Chattanooga in its last road contest.
Furman enters this tilt having alternated wins and losses over its last four contests. On Monday, the Paladin lost to Elon, 78-49. Sophomore Stephen Croone, the lone Paladin in double figures, led Furman with 13 points and five assists, as Furman never was really in the game.
After Keith Belfield gave the Paladins a 10-7 lead on a 3-point basket with 11:41 remaining in the opening period, Elon held Furman to just two scores over the next nine-plus minutes and scored 16 straight points as part of a 25-4 run to grab a 32-14 advantage.
Croone, who has scored in double digits in 27-of-28 games, leads the Paladins is scoring with 19.1 ppg. However, other than Croone, there isn't much offense on Furman, which averages only 65.4 ppg.
This is the second meeting of the season between these two schools. Bussey finished with 26 points to lead the Eagles to an 88-81 overtime victory over the Paladins on Jan. 16. Hewitt and Angel Matias each added 21 points for the Eagles. For the Paladins, Stephen Croone led the way with 26 points.
Expect this contest to be another close one. Furman is better at home (6-7) and Georgia Southern has had some road struggles, going just 4-10 as the visitor. However, Hewitt and Bussey should be enough for the Eagles.
Game Date and Time