Men's Basketball Wraps Up 2008 at Florida
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the O’Connell Center. The game can be seen live on SportSouth.
“Obviously we’re playing an experienced team on their floor,” said head coach Jeff Price. “We’re going to have to play awfully well to give ourselves a chance. Maybe we’ll have some confidence - we played them close last year and maybe that’ll help our mentality going in and we can give them a battle again this year.”
Georgia Southern (3-5) comes into the contest having lost both games at the Drake Hy-Vee Classic. GSU fell 84-73 in the opener to host Drake and 98-77 to North Dakota State.
“You just have to continue to put things in perspective that we’re playing to prepare ourselves for the Southern Conference,” said Price. “We want to win every game but the most important games are SoCon games. You have to be able to learn from those games, watch the tape and try and get better.”
Georgia Southern is playing just their fourth game of the month and will not take the floor again until Jan. 3 when it opens league play at home against Chattanooga.
“It’s hurt us (not playing regularly),” said Price. “When you make out the schedule you take the dates you can get but having to live the schedule, we would prefer to not have so many off days at this time of the year because you lose game continuity.”
Monday’s tilt is a rematch of the 52-49 thriller last season in Jacksonville when Florida scored the final four points of the contest and overcame a nine-point halftime deficit.
“It’s a different year, its a different team,” said Price. “We have some major losses and they have their whole team back and it’s not in Jacksonville, it’s in Gainesville. But our returning guys who played in that game remember the success that we had and it certainly can’t hurt.”
Florida (8-2), who followed their back-to-back NCAA national championships with a trip to the NIT semifinals, returns four starters which make up 80 percent of its scoring, 70 percent of its rebounding and 95 percent of its 3-point shooting.
“They are a really big team with both guards and forwards,” said Price. “They have good length but probably the most important thing with them is their experience.”
The lone starter lost was NBA first-round pick Marreese Speights. But among the returnees are SEC Newcomer of the Year and co-Freshman of the Year Nick Calathes who tallied 15 points and 11 rebounds last season against the Eagles, including the last four points of the contest.
“He’s got great size for a guard,” said Price. “He plays the point some and the 2.’ He gives everybody matchup problems because of his size. He can shoot the ball and puts the ball on the floor well.”
Among the bright spots of the Drake Tournament was sophomore Willie Powers who averaged 20 points in two games en route to all-tournament honors. Powers tied his career high with 26 points on 11-for-17 shooting vs. North Dakota State. That followed a 14-point performance against Drake. He currently leads the team in scoring (14.5 ppg), assists (24) and steals (14).
Saturday’s game will also be big for Powers as he is returning to his home town. He scored a team-high 17 points last season against the Gators.
“It’s a big game for him because he’s from Gainesville,” said Price. “He played really well against Florida last year. It will be a different setting in Gainesville but he’s excited to go play. We just have to hope he’s not too excited.”
Senior Julian Allen, the team’s second-leading scorer (11.9 ppg), was held to just six points at Drake, due in large part to foul trouble, but rebounded to record a season-high 19 points against North Dakota State. He just missed a double-double with nine rebounds and added four steals.
“He’s probably been our most consistent player,” said Price. “We need to find a way to get him more minutes because he’s playing really well right now. He had a good game against North Dakota State and hopefully that will continue and he can keep that momentum going.”
- Category: Men's Basketball
- Published on Saturday, 20 December 2008 00:23