By Matthew Asher

As college basketball teams prepare for the beginning of the tournament season, some of the regular season standings still have yet to be decided. One of those close races is in the Sun Belt Conference as top-ranked Georgia Southern (20-7) still has two games remaining before their conference tournament starts. Their first game is Thursday against Texas-Arlington (16-12), and then they close out the regular season with the second-ranked team in the Sun Belt Conference: Georgia State (20-9).

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Georgia Southern may have lost its last game to UL Lafayette 68-58, but the good news is that the Eagles have yet to lose two consecutive games this season. The even better news is that every time Georgia Southern loses a game, they win at least their next two straight games. If that happens, then the Eagles should be sitting pretty for the Sun Belt Conference Tournament which begins March 12.

Top Flight Eagles

Two different Eagles average at least 10 points a game. Jelani Hewitt leads the team with 18.2 points and Trent Wiedeman is responsible for 11.7 of his own. Wiedeman also is one of Georgia Southern’s best glass cleaners as both he and Angel Matias average 5.6 rebounds each a game. That’s not to say Hewitt is a one-trick pony either, as he also leads the team in assists with 3.7 each game. Second on the team is Mike Hughes, who averages 2.4 dimes per contest as well. In addition to leading the team in assists, both Hewitt and Hughes lead the team in steals with 2.6 and 1.4 thefts a game, respectively.

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Previous Encounter with Texas-Arlington

These two teams met back in December of last year as it was the conference opener for both teams. In a game that went down to the wire, it was Texas-Arlington who came away with a 62-61 victory thanks to Lonnie McClanahan scoring the game-winning shot with 14 seconds left on the clock. While it’s always tough to stomach a last-second loss, Georgia Southern really had no business being in that game at all as the Mavericks went into halftime with a 40-27 lead. Thanks basically to Texas-Arlington falling apart in the second half, Georgia Southern was able to make a game out of it, but it was a game they should have lost.

One of the main reasons for the low scoring was the Eagles shooting woes. Georgia Southern shot just 35.5 percent from the field including a dreadful 19.2 percent from beyond the arc. Compare that to Texas-Arlington’s much more reasonable 42.3 percent from the field and 45.0 percent from three-point range. In addition to the better shot percentages, Texas-Arlington finished with 14 team assists while the Eagles had just nine in the entire game. Georgia Southern did have the edge in rebounding as they pulled down 43 boards, with 16 coming when the Eagles were still on offense Compare that to the Mavericks 39 rebounds, with 11 coming on offense.

However, all that took place as the Eagles were the away team. This next game will take place inside W.S. Hanner Fieldhouse. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.

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Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.