The Citadel Travels to Georgia Southern for South Division Clash Monday Night
The Citadel (4-14, 1-6 SoCon) at Georgia Southern (7-11, 4-3 SoCon), 7 p.m.
There was little time for Georgia Southern to celebrate its huge 64-58 win over College of Charleston in front of more than 3,000 fans at Hanner Fieldhouse, because the Eagles knew they would have to get ready for another South Division tilt just 48 hours later.
Struggling Citadel pays a visit to Hanner Fieldhouse still licking its wounds from an 80-51 whipping on the road at the hands of league-leading Davidson on Saturday night.
It will be the first of two meetings between the teams this season, and it was a 65-53 win over The Citadel at Hanner Fieldhouse that represented Georgia Southern's lone league win of the 2010-11 basketball season. In stark contrast to last season, the Eagles find themselves in prime contention for one of the top two seeds and subsequent first-round bye in the upcoming league tournament.
The Eagles and Bulldogs will be meeting for the 46th time in series history on Monday night, with GSU holding a 26-19 series edge.
Georgia Southern's win over the Cougars on Saturday night was significant, as not only did it bring the Eagles into a second-place tie with the Cougars, it also snapped an eight-game skid to the Cougars.
It was veteran guard Ben Drayton III (11.4 PPG, 1.9 RPG) who led the Eagles to the 12-point win over the Bulldogs last season, and he has been one of the key figures once again for a much-improved Georgia Southern basketball team that has lost only once at home this season, which was the season-opening 90-81 setback to Valparaiso.
Drayton dropped in a team-high 15 points, as he led three Eagles in double figures in last season's win. Drayton is coming off a solid 11-point performance for the Eagles in the win from this past Saturday night.
Drayton ranks second among active players in the SoCon in career points, having amassed 1,345 career points entering this evening's contest against the Bulldogs. He also ranks 20th on GSU's all-time scroll and needs just one point tonight to move to 19th on the ledger.
Joining Drayton in double-figures scoring average this season have been talented sophomore forward Eric Ferguson (16.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG) and senior guard Willie Powers (10.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG).
Ferguson, who was a big-time recruit, highly sought after by some big-time programs, including Penn State and UConn, chose to come to Georgia Southern to play for head coach Charlton Young, who is Ferguson's godfather. Eagles fans are elated at his decision, as the 6'7" combo forward has blossomed into one of the best young players in the Southern Conference in his sophomore campaign.
Ferguson is an electrifying athlete, and he posted his eighth straight double-figure scoring performance against the Cougars on Saturday night, recording a game-high 19 points, with 12 of those points coming off of dunks. Heading into Monday night's tilt, Ferguson currently ranks third in the SoCon in scoring.
Powers has battled injuries, but along with Drayton, he is GSU's veteran-most performer. Powers has 1,191 points to rank 26th on the school's all-time list, and he posted a career-high 27 points in the season-opening loss to Valparaiso.
Forward Cameron Baskerville (3.9 PPG, 2.7 RPG) and sophomore guard Jelani Hewitt (9.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG) round out a solid starting five for the Eagles this evening. Baskerville is a hard worker in the paint for the Eagles and is active on the defensive end of the floor.
Baskerville will be making his 14th start of the season for the Eagles and recorded one of his best games of the season with seven boards in a loss to Wake Forest.
Hewitt rounds out the starting five and he has been another player in the GSU lineup that has the ability to be a prolific scorer. Hewitt is the team's most prolific perimeter scorer this season, and he registered a career-high six three-pointers and 20 points in a win over Chattanooga back in early December. For the season, Hewitt has knocked down a team-high 34 treys so far this season.
Coming off the GSU bench, the players for the Eagles this season have been Tyrone Brown (2.8 PPG, 1.3 RPG) and Marvin Baynham (2.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG). Both Baynham and Brown add depth in the frontcourt, with Baynham backing up Baskerville, while Brown serves as Ferguson's understudy.
Baynham has started seven games this season, recording a season-high six points in the season-opening loss to Valparaiso. Two of Brown's best performances of his career have come in league play, matching a career-high eight points in the win at Elon while posting seven points in the loss at Wofford.
In the backcourt, Tre Bussey (6.3 PPG, 1.3 RPG) and Jessie Pernell (1.9 PPG, 1.5 RPG) are the top guards coming off the bench.
The Citadel enters this evening's contest continuing to be led by Mike Groselle (17.2 PPG, 9.4 RPG), who continues to lead the SoCon in scoring and rebounding this season, making a serious case for SoCon Player of the Year accolades.
Groselle has scored 20 or more points in three games this season for the Bulldogs and had 22 points and five boards in the most-recent 80-51 setback at Davidson on Saturday. Groselle posted 17 points in the last meeting against the Eagles, which was a 65-53 loss last February.
Groselle will team with C.J. Bray (6.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG) in the starting five in the post tonight. Bray will be making his 15th start this evening, which is more than any other Bulldog freshman.
The trio of starters in the backcourt for Monday night's South Division showdown will be Cosmo Morabbi (6.6 PPG, 2.2 RPG), Ashton Moore (8.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG) and DeVonte Wright (9.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG).
The experience of Morabbi has been something that head coach Chuck Driesell has had to rely on in his backcourt this season. Morabbi can be relied upon as a scorer if called upon to do so.
He scored a season-high 20 points in the Bulldogs' lone league win over Samford but has been held to a combined 14 points over the last three outings. He ranks second on the team in field goals made (41) and three-point field goals made (14) this season.
Moore and Wright have been solid but inconsistent for the most part this season for the Bulldogs. Wright scored a season-high 26 points in a win over Army, while Moore posted a career-best 30 points in a win over UVA-Wise. Moore is the Bulldogs' best perimeter threat, having knocked down 27 triples this season for the Bulldogs.
Bo Holston (4.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG), Barry Smith (6.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG) and Marshall Harris III (3.2 PPG, 0.9 RPG) are the top performers off the bench for the Bulldogs. Holston and Smith add depth in the frontcourt, while Harris adds depth in the backcourt.
Final score prediction: Georgia Southern 78, The Citadel 62
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