Men’s basketball to tip off regular season in Winston-Salem

McClain Baxley

After two comfortable and convincing exhibition wins over in-state teams Georgia College and Augusta University, the Georgia Southern men’s basketball team travels to Wake Forest on Friday for its first game of the regular season.

In the two exhibitions, the usual suspects, junior guards Ike Smith and Tookie Brown, have led the charge as expected. Smith, named to the Lou Henson Award watch list this week, averaged 21 points while Brown averaged 19 points and nearly 5 assists.

Both Brown and Smith were named to the preseason all-Sun Belt Conference First Team.

A pleasant surprise off the bench for the Eagles has been redshirt sophomore Jacksonville State transfer Jared Hamilton.

Hamilton, in each of the two exhibitions, has put up 13 points. He also grabbed three steals against Georgia College.

Friday night marks back-to-back season openers for GS against North Carolina ACC opponents after last year’s last-second 81-79 loss at NC State. Last year’s NC State team was about the same tier as last year’s Wake Forest who finished 19-14 and went to their first NCAA tournament in seven years.

The Demon Deacons play in arguably the nation’s toughest basketball conference, the ACC, and return 12 players from last year. Starting guards Bryant Crawford and Keyshawn Woods lead the Deacons’ lineup and are looking to have great seasons.

Crawford scored 16 points a game last season, and Woods was just a step behind, scoring 12 points a game, but he was also third on the team in total rebounds with 139.

Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum isn’t necessarily known for its hostile environment, but going on the road for their first game of the season may be hostile enough for the Eagles.

Despite the winning record last year, GS struggled to find wins on the road, posting a 6-11 road record. With this being one of only 3 marquee non-conference road games, it will be important for the Eagles to put on a good show if they want to build their strength of schedule.

The game in Winston-Salem tips off at 7:30 and can be seen on and ACC Network Extra.