Eagles look good in season opener

Robert George

The Georgia Southern basketball team got the 2015-2016 season off to a good start Thursday night when they defeated the Middle Georgia State Knights 87-73 in front of a loud and energetic crowd at Hanner Fieldhouse.

The Eagles shot 48 percent from the field and hit 12 shots from beyond the arc to pace themselves to the win. While the exhibition game won’t count on the schedule, it was a good chance for the young team to compete against another team and play in front of a large crowd. “It’s different for the freshmen once you put on a uniform and you have people here,” head coach Mark Byington said. “They were a little bit nervous an antsy, but I thought they settled into the game.”

It was one of those freshmen that ended up leading the Eagles in scoring on the night. Forward Montae Glenn paced the Eagles with 15 points and four rebounds to go along with two blocks, an assist and a steal in jut 16 minutes of play. “I felt good. At the beginning I felt a little nervous but as the game went on I got more comfortable,” Glenn said. “We played good as a team, the offense flowed really well.” The 6’8” forward came off the bench and provided the Eagles with low-post scoring and hustle on the glass. “I thought he did a good job of pursuing the ball and catching a few balls off a pick and roll and finishing at the basket,” Byington said on Glenn’s performance. Glenn is one of the bigger bodies the Eagles have at their disposal and will be called upon to battle a lot against bigger opponents throughout the season.

Ike Smith and Tookie Brown were also freshmen seeing playing in their first college game. Smith started at guard and posted six rebounds to go along with eight points in a team-high 25 minutes. Smith attacked the basket well and got to the line twice. Brown came off the bench and connected on three long balls and dished out four assists in his impressive debut. “It’s different from high school; the game is a lot more fast paced,” Brown said. “I had to learn quickly in the first half and just keep playing after that.” Brown and Smith both looked comfortable with the ball in their hands and settled into the speed of the game pretty quickly. “They all did some good things and they’re all gonna play,” Byington said.

The Boykins brothers both started and played well in their season debuts. Devince got the Eagles started with two made three pointers and a big slam in the first half. The senior transfer looked comfortable with his new teammates and in the new gym, and was aggressive from the opening tip. Devonte filled the stat sheet with 9 points, sic rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal on the night.

Jake Allsmiller came off the bench and scored 13 points in 19 minutes. The sharpshooter went 3-6 from downtown and was a perfect 4-4 from the line. He was happy with how the Eagles moved the ball around and got up and down he floor. “That’s how we play. We play with pace, play really fast,” Allsmiller said. “Coach wants us to push the ball up the court and get as many good shots as possible.”

A few areas where the Eagles will have to improve is on the boards and to cut down on turnovers. They were outrebounded 18-12 on the offensive glass, which allowed the Knights to cut into the lead late in the game. “Our rebounding was absolutely terrible tonight,” Allsmiller said. “Coach said we’re getting physical this week. We’re getting after it now.”

“We had a lot of turnovers tonight, so we can definitely get better. Learn how to get physical on the boards, so we’ll get after it,” Brown said.

Overall, it was a very impressive performance from the Eagles. A lot of young players got in their first collegiate game and got to play under the lights in front of a big crowd. They shot the ball extremely well and were able to get to the basket pretty much whenever they wanted. It was a good start for the team as they began the 2015-2016 campaign.

They will take the court again this Friday when they host Webber International in Hanner Fieldhouse. Tipoff is at 7:30pm.