Eagles search for answers amid three-game skid

Robert Huitt

A humbling 52-82 loss to Davidson College Saturday night epitomized the problems that have plagued the Georgia Southern University men’s basketball team during the season and its most recent skid.

Road performance and offensive inconsistency are problems that have impacted the Eagles throughout the season, but recently a new problem has arisen: defense.

The Eagles are last in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense since entering conference play, and it has shown recently. They have given up 79 points per game (ppg) on 49.6 percent shooting to their last three opponents.

GSU Head Coach Mark Byington knows that the team has to correct the slippage on the defensive end.

“We talk to the guys about understanding the process and importance of each possession,” Byington said. “Getting better defensively has probably been our main focus. And then also developing some toughness and getting some critical stops.”

The Eagles (9-12) have now dropped their last three games and four of their last five.

The 30-point loss in Davidson, N.C. was the second-worst of the season behind a 33-point loss to West Virginia University in November. Both games were away from home, which illustrates GSU’s struggles on the road.

The Eagles are 2-8 in true road games (1-1 at neutral sites) with six of those losses coming by double digits.

“We’re an older team, but we lack experience,” Byington said. “And sometimes, to win on the road, you got to have both. I think sometimes, on the road, we’ve lacked maturity and some toughness to pull those wins out.”

Also, during this recent rough patch, the Eagles’ offense has cooled considerably. They have failed to reach 70 points in the last three games.

After scoring 26 points against Furman University on Jan. 16, Tre Bussey has been held to just nine points per game during the team’s three-game losing streak. Opposing defenses have limited Bussey’s opportunities to do damage from behind the arc, holding him to 2-of-6 shooting from long range.

Hewitt, the leading scorer for the Eagles, has struggled shooting the ball as well. He has connected on only 34 percent of his shots. Hewitt has also failed to score 20 points the last three games, which is tied for the longest such streak he has had this season.

The Eagles cannot reverse the outcomes of the last three games, but they can use these experiences to their advantage.

Byington said, “Hopefully, we’re learning from some of our past mistakes, and learning what we’re doing right to keep improving.”