STATESBORO, GA (WTOC) - Georgia Southern is well aware of what’s at stake Saturday.
The Eagles welcome arch rival Georgia State to Hanner Fieldhouse for the regular season finale and Senior Night this weekend. The winner takes home at least a share of the conference regular season title and clinches a top-two seed in the Sun Belt Tournament.
Despite everything on the line, head coach Mark Byington doesn’t want his team calling it the biggest game of the year.
“There is a lot on the line, but we’re going to play a bigger game,” Byington says. “We’re going to go out and play our best. But win or lose, it doesn’t make our season.”
Byington is referring to next week’s Sun Belt Conference tournament in New Orleans and the NCAA Tournament berth awaiting the tourney champ in New Orleans.
But it’s not a stretch to call this the biggest game of the season so far, and most anticipated in recent memory. The Eagles expect the Hanner Fieldhouse crowd to reflect that Saturday night.
The game is not a sellout as of Wednesday afternoon, but Georgia Southern doesn’t expect that to be the case later this week.
“Everybody at school has been talking to me about the game,” admits senior guard Tookie Brown. “They all want us to win.”
“It’s going to be crazy. It’s going to be real crazy,” says junior forward Isaiah Crawley. “It’s going to be a pretty deep atmosphere. But I think we’re ready for it.”
Saturday’s game also represents the last time seniors Tookie Brown and Montae Glenn will take the floor at Hanner Fieldhouse. Southern will be holding the Senior Day festivities after Saturday’s game. Both players say winning a regular season conference title in their final home game would be extra sweet, but they say their attention can’t wander this week.
“Right now, I’m just focusing on the little things,” says Brown. "I’m hitting the ice baths, working on the scouting report and practice, and those type things.”
The Eagles and Panthers tip off at 5:00 p.m. Saturday at Hanner Fieldhouse in Statesboro. Southern has not lost to State at home since 1996.