Western Carolina (9-8) at Georgia Southern (8-8)

The Sports NetworkJanuary 11, 2014 

GAME NOTES: The Western Carolina Catamounts and the Georgia Southern Eagles have both been idle for a week, and they'll square off on Saturday in Southern Conference play at Hanner Fieldhouse.

Western Carolina has won three straight and four of its last five games, including last Saturday's 74-62 win over Elon. All four victories during that stretch came on the home floor of the Catamounts, who are a perfect 7-0 in Cullowhee, but are just 1-7 as the visitors this season.

Georgia Southern also has a rather uneven home and road split, as the team is 5-1 in Hanner Fieldhouse but is only 2-6 on the road. The Eagles began a three-game homestand with an 80-78 triumph over Samford last weekend in their SoCon opener.

In terms of the all-time series between these two schools, GSU holds a 20-14 edge.

The Catamounts took a slim two-point lead into the half against Elon, but they outscored the Phoenix in the second half by a 42-32 margin to claim the victory. Relentless defensive pressure helped WCU pull away as it forced 23 turnovers for the game, yielding a key 28-16 advantage in points off turnovers. Guard Trey Sumler tallied a game-high 21 points and six assists, while teammates James Sinclair and Tom Tankelewicz finished with 12 points apiece. On the season, Sumler leads the team with 19.6 ppg to go along with 4.5 rpg and 4.3 apg. Tankelewicz (10.4 ppg) and Brandon Boggs (10.2 ppg) are also averaging double figures in the scoring column.

Georgia Southern led Samford by as many as a dozen in the first half of last weekend's SoCon opener. The Bulldogs made a second-half charge behind a 51.6- percent shooting effort from the floor, but the Eagles outscored them by a 16-8 margin at the free-throw line over the final 20 minutes to pull out the victory. Jelani Hewitt turned the ball over seven times, but scored a team- high 23 points for GSU, while fellow guard Tre Bussey finished with 22 points. Kyle Doyle and Brian Holmes rounded out the double-digit scorers with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Hewitt and Bussey have been steady contributors in the scoring column this season. Hewitt paces the squad with 20.7 ppg to go along with 5.0 rpg, while Bussey is averaging 18.4 ppg. That duo has combined to knock down 80 of GSU's 130 3-pointers so far this season.

Although these teams are fairly evenly matched on paper, the home-road splits tell the story here. And while anything is possible once the game tips off, it would be quite a shock if a 1-7 road team knocked off an Eagles squad that has been very strong at home this season.

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