The absence of a steady third scorer has contributed to an uneven start to the season for the Georgia Southern University men’s basketball team.
After a 67-68 defeat to the Western Carolina University Catamounts Saturday, the Eagles have dropped to 8-9 on the season. WCU made the Eagles work for every basket in the half court, and it highlighted the need for a third scoring option to draw the attention of opposing defenses.
With as many scoring threats on the floor as possible, defenses cannot focus on any one player and it creates easier opportunities for everyone on the court.
Redshirt junior guard Jelani Hewitt and senior guard Tre Bussey have done most of the heavy lifting offensively for the Eagles. Hewitt leads the Southern Conference with 20.8 points per game (ppg), and Bussey rounds out the top five with 18.2 ppg.
The Eagles have been without senior forward Eric Ferguson, who is sitting out this season as a medical redshirt. Last season Ferguson led the team with 13.5 ppg, and would have most likely been the consistent third scorer that the team needs.
GSU head coach Mark Byington has repeatedly emphasized the importance of sharing the basketball since being hired last spring. He also believes that there are players on the roster who are more than capable of playing better and being more effective on offense.
Senior guard Brian Holmes currently ranks third on the team with 9.5 points per game and has shown the ability to put the ball in the basket. Holmes had a career-high 19 points against Georgia State University and also had a 17-point performance against the University of Miami.
Junior forward Angel Matias has also flashed his scoring ability on a few occasions this year. Matias led the Eagles with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting in a matchup against South Carolina State University earlier this season.
Steady offensive production could be essential in establishing a winning streak and breaking away from hovering around the .500 mark. It would also complement GSU’s defense, which has been solid so far.
In the conference, the Eagles rank second in scoring defense and first in opponent field goal percentage. However, they have been susceptible to giving up rebounds and extra possessions to bigger teams.
Fortunately for GSU, there is still a lot of time to correct things before the SoCon tournament.
The Eagles will continue conference play against the Furman University Paladins Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Hanner Fieldhouse.