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Say hello to Georgia Southern, short but ... short

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch or listen to the game

Tip time: 7 p.m. ET, Friday, Nov. 11

TV: None

Online streamingESPN3/ACC Network Extra

Radio: Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)

Georgia Southern vitals

Record: Georgia Southern ain't played nobody
RPI: Georgia Southern ain't played nobody
Pomeroy ranking: Georgia Southern ain't played nobody
Best win***: Georgia Southern ain't played nobody
Worst loss: Georgia Southern ain't played nobody

(***Georgia Southern ain't played nobody)

Adjusted tempo (projected): 71.3 poss/40 minutes (ranks 140th)
Adjusted offensive efficiency (projected): 102.0 (ranks 117th)
Adjusted defensive efficiency (projected): 100.6 (ranks 183rd)

GSU roster
GSU schedule
GSU stats 2016

The Georgia Southern offense and starters

GSU Offense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2014-15 47.3 (245) 18.3 (114) 32.6 (111) 36.2 (193)
2015-16 47.5 (272) 16.2 (50) 29.7 (171) 37.7 (144)

Georgia Southern is coming off of a 14-17 campaign, but there is nonetheless justifiable optimism around this team. The Eagles held their own in the Sun Belt last season, finishing 10-10, despite having just about the youngest rotation in the country. They ranked 350th in experience (that's out of 351)--nine Eagles averaged at least 10 minutes per game, and eight of them were underclassmen. They are all back.

Head coach Mark Byington got a breakout sophomore campaign from guard Mike Hughes and a huge freshman debut from point guard Tookie Brown, and those two have this offense in good hands. With some growth elsewhere on the roster, this could be one of the Sun Belt's best teams. It should at least feature one of the league's best offenses.

But the Eagles have a major issue that can be a bonus or a hindrance at either end of the floor--they don't have much size to speak of. Of the five guys who logged the most minutes for them last year, the tallest was 6-5. Not surprisingly, Georgia Southern is wired to shoot a whole lot of three-pointers. Only 22 teams attempted threes more frequently than the Eagles in 2016.

And they lived on a low turnover rate, which can be one of the major bonuses of the ol' gaggle-of-guards lineup.

On the other hand, GSU made only 45.6% of its two-point attempts, which ranked 289th nationally. More than 12% of their two-point attempts were blocked, which is a horrific ratio. These weaknesses were more readily apparent in non-conference play, where they saw several power-conference teams, including Duke.

While they only hit a third of their numerous three-point bombs last season, their inability to score effectively inside the arc still made hoisting jumpers the more profitable option, and that's likely to remain the case this season. Some things you simply can't alter with coaching; the roster is basically unchanged, and that roster includes a lot of short guys. Scoring in the paint should remain a struggle.

They'll be able to overcome that handicap with some collective improvement from three-point range as long as they continue to take good care of the ball.


Tookie Brown (5-11, 180) -- If Brown's career at Georgia Southern ends up netting Mark Byington a comfy extension, he'll have a lot to owe to both Brown and the coaching change at Mississippi State. Brown had signed with the Bulldogs before they replaced Rick Ray with Ben Howland, then decided to look elsewhere. He immediately became a leader for Georgia Southern, averaging nearly 18 points per game as a freshman. He hit 36.5% of his threes and almost 82% of his free throws. Good quickness, which is reflected in his free throw rate and steal rate.

Mike Hughes (6-3, 190) -- If there's one guard GSU won't mind shooting inside the arc, it's Hughes, who made almost 49% of his two-point attempts in 2016. He also hit 38.5% from three. His workload went way up as a sophomore, and he responded by becoming more effective in several categories. Hughes was also a key part of the Eagles' defense, with a steal rate that ranked 19th nationally.

Ike Smith (6-4, 195) -- There's always a line, especially when you are a freshman, between "yeah okay that makes sense" and "he's trying to do too much." Smith ended up on the do-too-much side, though with a little more certainty in the cast around him, maybe he'll be able to dial it back as a sophomore. Smith wasn't much use inside the arc (41.8% on twos) and was below average beyond it (32.6%), all while assuming the second-biggest workload on the team.

Shawn O'Connell (6-8, 210) -- O'Connell is unlikely to be much more than the extremely-light-usage low-scorer he was in 2016, but Southern's got to forge some minutes out of at least a couple tallish-type dudes. There are three guys list at 6-8 on the roster, and he's one of 'em, by golly. Also, there is no one on the roster taller than 6-8. Small problem: he averaged 8.8 fouls per 40 minutes in 2016 and fouled out of seven games.

Montae Glenn (6-8, 230) -- Good rebounder who hit 17-22 from the free throw line last season. He was limited by injury, but otherwise posted decent overall numbers in a limited role. If he can expand that role as a sophomore, it would help Southern a lot. One teensie problem: he committed 7.4 fouls per 40 minutes in 2016 and fouled out of two games.

The Georgia Southern bench and defense

ReservesDevonte Boykins (6-2, 180), Jake Allsmiller (6-5, 185), B.J. Gladden (6-6, 210), Coye Simmons (6-8, 240), Quan Jackson (6-4, 180). In two seasons, Allsmiller has attempted 271 three-pointers and 32 two-pointers. Decent outside shooter, but outside shooting is pretty much all he ever does.

Simmons could be a key piece for Southern, not simply because forwards are scarce on this roster, but because he's capable of being an elite rebounder at both ends of the floor. Rebounding is not the Eagles' strength at either end.

Jackson, a freshman, and Gladden, a JuCo transfer, are unknowns at this point. Boykins is coming off a rough season.

GSU Defense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2014-15 46.2 (62) 22.0 (22) 32.2 (234) 32.7 (80)
2015-16 51.8 (267) 20.0 (64) 34.5 (327) 44.5 (318)

Byington was willing to get creative last year, mixing in man and zone looks, along with full-court or just some token pressure after made baskets. The Eagles got opponents to settle for a lot of three-pointers and they forced turnovers at a healthy rate.

Those gains came with significant costs, however, as opponents grabbed a ton of offensive boards and hit 52.5% of their two-point attempts overall. Georgia Southern also committed fouls at a high rate. Pressuring with a small team creates opportunities but also leaves a bunch of easy openings for the opposing team to manipulate.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State by 14.