Furman (6-20, 3-12 SoCon) at Georgia Southern (11-17, 5-10 SoCon)
Feb. 23, 2013, 7:00 p.m.
Statesboro, GA., Hanner Fieldhouse (5,000)
Quick Game Preview:
Furman will look to snap its seven-game losing streak on Saturday against Georgia Southern, in a venue in which the Paladins haven't seen all too much success in the past. The good news for the Paladins is that they're playing the last team they were able to defeat. The Paladins beat Georgia Southern by an 81-74 score on Jan. 31 at Timmons Arena in Greenville, S.C.
Georgia Southern comes in off a 53-47 loss at home to Wofford on Thursday night, marking the fourth loss in the last five outings for Charlton Young's Eagles.
Furman and Georgia Southern will be meeting for the 48th time in the series, with Furman taking a 24-23 series edge with the earlier season win by the Paladins in Greenville.
The Paladins have been ailing as a result of injuries all season. Without Charlie Reddick and Stephen Croone, both done for the season with foot injuries, the Paladins now look to senior Bobby Austin (6.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG) and freshman Larry Wideman (8.2 PPG, 1.8 RPG) to pick up the backcourt scoring.
Wideman and Austin are Furman's top two perimeter shooters for the Paladins, having connected on 35 and 32 trifectas respectively this season. Wideman is coming off a career-high-tying 18 points in the 73-36 loss to Davidson last Wednesday, while Austin has six double-figure scoring performances this season, which included a 17-point outing against Georgia Southern in Furman's seven-point win over the Eagles back in January.
Georgia Southern counters with a talented backcourt trio of C.J. Reed (12.8 PPG, 3.7 APG), Brian Holmes (4.0 PPG, 2.1 RPG) and Cleon Roberts (8.5 PPG, 2.3 RPG), who have been one of the more solid units in the SoCon this season. It will be a special evening for Reed, who will be playing his final game for the Eagles in front of the Hanner Fieldhouse crowd, where earlier this season, he helped the team to gain wins over the SoCon's two top teams, Davidson (70-57) and College of Charleston (51-47).
Reed, who is the team's second-leading scorer, has enjoyed a pair of 22-point scoring performances this season, including one against Virginia Tech in Georgia Southern's top non-conference victory. Cleon Roberts also has shown the ability to be a scoring threat for the Eagles, posting a season- and career-high 20 points in a recent win at The Citadel.
In the paint, Furman will look to a pair of veterans and a freshman for its scoring, from seniors Colin Reddick (12.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG) and Bryant Irwin (6.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG) and freshman Kendrec Ferrara (6.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG).
Reddick, from Power Springs, Ga., is Furman's lone double-figures scorer for the Paladins this season, and he has clearly been the Paladins' best player. But when teams have doubled Reddick in the post, Furman has struggled to find a secondary scorer in the post.
Reddick had a season-high 25 points in a 69-65 loss at College of Charleston earlier this season, but he was held to just two points the last time out. He is shooting at an impressive 50.4-percent clip from the field this season, which ranks him sixth in the SoCon in that category. Reddick posted 12 points in the earlier win over Georgia Southern this season. His 98 career blocks ranks him fifth on the school's all-time chart.
Irwin has been more of a perimeter threat for the Paladins out of the post over the past couple of seasons, as evidenced by his 15-point performance on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting performance from beyond the arc in a loss to SMU earlier this season.
Georgia Southern will start senior forward Cameron Baskerville (4.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG) and junior Marvin Baynham (4.7 PPG, 3.6 RPG) in the post on Saturday night. The Eagles can bring one of the best post players off the bench, in Charlton Young's godson Eric Ferguson (14.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG).
Baskerville and Baynham are physical, athletic players in the post but don't offer all that much as offensive threats. The frontcourt duo has a combined six double-figure scoring games between the two this season for the Eagles, and the frontcourt tandem produced a combined nine points between them in the last meeting between the Eagles and Paladins back in January.
Ferguson, a 6'7" junior from Statesboro, GA., is one of the SoCon's top players and athletes in general. Some think Ferguson has a serious chance at playing in the NBA in three years, and along with classmate De'Mon Brooks of Davidson, is probably the best NBA prospect. Ferguson has scored in double figures in 25 of the Eagles' 28 games so far this season, which included 14 points in the first meeting with the Paladins this season.
Ferguson enjoyed his best performance against Georgia State earlier this season, posting a season-high 24 points in the 68-64 overtime win for the Eagles. His 1,239 points ranks him 26th all-time in school history in points. He also recently joined the 500-career rebound club earlier this season against North Carolina A&T, becoming just the 10th player in school history to score 1,000 points and post 500 rebounds in a career.
Furman, who dressed only eight players on Wednesday night, will likely again dress eight on Saturday night against the Eagles. Top players off the bench for the Paladins will be point guard and Mauldin, S.C., native David Brown (2.5 PPG, 1.1 APG) and forward Kevin Chuisseu (1.0 PPG, 1.5 RPG).
Georgia Southern has a little bit more of an extensive bench but still utilizes an eight-man rotation for the most part. Junior guard Tre Bussey (8.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG) and junior forward Sam Mike (1.6 PPG, 1.3 RPG) join Ferguson as the top players off the bench for the Eagles.
Furman enters with just a 1-12 mark on the road this season, and the Paladins have averaged just 44 points per game in their last two road games. It appears things won't get much easier in the "Blue Out" scheduled for Hanner Fieldhouse—a place where GSU handed Davidson its only conference loss this season—on a Saturday night.
Stay tuned for a feature on Furman basketball next week, taking a look at the recent down-trend of Furman basketball. We'll also see just how hot the seat is for current Furman head coach Jeff Jackson, now in his seventh season since taking over the reins of the program after serving as an assistant at Vanderbilit.
Final Score Prediction: Georgia Southern 68, Furman 51