STATESBORO, GA (WTOC) - On Saturday, Georgia Southern's men's basketball team will head to Atlanta to face in-state rival Georgia State for arguably the biggest game to date for the Eagles in the 2017-2018 season.
Head coach Mark Byington says this series runs much deeper than just a game for positioning in the Sun Belt.
"I think it's probably been the best rivalry in basketball in the state of Georgia," Byington says. "A lot of games have had meaning. They've been close. I know it's important to our fans. It's important to our guys. It's one of 18 conference games, but sometimes you want something a little more for bragging rights."
The problem for the Eagles has been beating the Panthers in the state's capital. Georgia Southern hasn't won at Georgia State in seven tries, dating all the way back to 1992.
Byington says none of that streak really matters to this year's team, who have done everything but win in Atlanta.
"Up there, we've been competitive. Two years ago, we lost in overtime. A year ago, it was anybody's game with a minute to go. It was a one-possession game," he says. "So this same group of guys that have played those last few games, they know what they have to do. We have to be able to finish better."