Georgia Southern (15-14) vs. Elon (14-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 3, 8:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: U.S. Cellular Center (7,654) -- Asheville, North Carolina. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: GSU 10-2, Elon 10-4. Away Record: GSU 4-12, Elon 4-11. Neutral Record: GSU 1-0, Elon 0-0. Conference Record: GSU 12-6, Elon 9-9. Series Record: Georgia Southern leads, 9-8.
GAME NOTES: The South Division's third-seeded Georgia Southern Eagles will try to take down the North's second-seeded Elon Phoenix as the two square off in the quarterfinal round of the 2012 Southern Conference Tournament at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, North Carolina.
This will be the 18th meeting between Georgia Southern and Elon in history. The Eagles hold a 9-8 lead in the all-time series after their 69-63 victory over the Phoenix on Jan. 5 in this season's only previous encounter. GSU trailed at the half by eight points in the initial meeting before it shot 59.3 percent from the floor and converted 11-of-12 at the charity stripe to beat the Phoenix on their home floor.
Just like in their contest with Elon in the first week of 2012, the Eagles also trailed by eight points at halftime on Friday night in their first-round bout with the Chattanooga Mocs. GSU put together a strong second half as it shot 51.9 percent from the floor, drained 4-of-10 from three-point range, and made 10-of-13 from the free throw line to win the second half by 14 points and the contest by eight. Coach Charlton Young's team is now 15-14 for the season after Friday's win. Georgia Southern is seeking its first-ever SoCon Tournament title.
Eric Ferguson paced the Eagles this season with 14.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. The sophomore guard began the postseason with a strong performance as he scored 26 points and grabbed eight boards versus Chattanooga. Ferguson was a crucial element in GSU's win over Elon earlier this season, as he scored 21 points and pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds. Ben Drayton III, Willie Powers and Jelani Hewitt all carry double-digit scoring averages to make up a very deep supporting cast. Tre Bussey chipped in 10 points on Friday in the winning effort.
Elon is also seeking its first SoCon title, as it comes in with a 9-8 record in the annual event. The Phoenix ended a five-game losing streak in their regular-season finale with a 93-79 victory over UNC Greensboro. The Phoenix knocked down 10-of-20 from three-point range to defeat the Spartans, who finished just ahead of them in the North Division standings. Elon's skid cost it first place in the North Division of the SoCon. Coach Matt Matheny has led his squad to a 14-15 overall record, and the team has been rather streaky this season. Elon has scored 78.0 ppg in its 14 wins, but only 63.4 ppg in its 15 losses. The Phoenix will aim for the 70-point plateau tonight, as they are 11-4 when reaching that mark.
The Phoenix will rely on the duo of Jack Isenbarger and Lucas Troutman to return to the semifinals for the third time in school history. Isenbarger leads the team with 14.1 ppg, while Troutman has produced 12.7 ppg. In the Phoenix's regular-season finale, Isenbarger netted 24 points and Troutman finished with 18. Elon also received huge contributions from Ryley Beaumont (20 points, eight rebounds) and Sebastian Koch (12 rebounds) versus the Spartans.
Elon will need steady contributions from its role players to make a run at the title. GSU has a very good chance at pulling off the upset despite having to play on back-to-back nights. The Eagles' chances of winning the entire tourney are not very high, as no team has won four games in four days to become the SoCon champion. However, with Georgia Southern's success against the Phoenix earlier this year, the idea of it pulling off the quarterfinal-round upset tonight is not impossible.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia Southern 73, Elon 67
03/03 10:38:31 ET