No team had a better week than Western Carolina in the first week of SoCon action. They hammered
both UNCG and Elon at home. Now they go on the road, looking to prove themselves against another SoCon contender. Georgia Southern is that contender. They won their first SoCon game by beating Samford, 80-78 at home. With Furman and Wofford at home along with Appalachian State on the road in the next three games, the Eagles have a real chance to get to 5-0 in SoCon play if they can win this one heading into a trip to Davidson on January 25. That's not an easy road for the Eagles, but they can win some games. Western's tough road continues with Samford at home after this one, before going to Wofford and then hosting Davidson.
Western is in the middle of one of the oddities of an 11 team conference schedule. They played last Saturday, will not play again until this one on Saturday, and have another week off before the Samford game. Unbelievable for the Catamounts.
The Catamounts, as everyone knows, relies heavily on Trey Sumler. He is averaging 19.6 points per game and shoots nearly 44% from three point range. He leads the team in assists at 4.3 per game along with being second on the team in rebounds with 4.5 per game.
The Catamounts are not a tall team, but they are a good rebounding team. They rank 104th in the country in OR%. and actually 138th in block percentage. They do force turnovers on 21.2% of opponents possessions, which is 39th in the country.
Tawaski King is the Catamounts biggest player, and maybe their most important player in some ways. King is the leading rebounder at 4.8 per game. He is only shooting 39.4% from the field, though and averaging 6.8 points per game. King needs to start making more shots for the Catamounts to reach their ultimate goals.
Tom Tankelwicz and Brandon Boggs are the other two Catamounts averaging in double figures. Tankelwicz is averaging 10.4 points per game, while Boggs is averaging 10.2. Tankelwicz is shooting 39.8% from three point range. He is another key player for the Catamounts. He is one of the most dangerous shooters in the SoCon when he is hot. That's why he has been one of my favorite SoCon players the last several years.
Bussey is averaging 18.4 points per game, to go along with 4.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists. He is shooting 38.9% from three point range. He has made 35 threes on the year. He and Hewitt are both so good. They can both drive to the basket and they can both shoot the ball.
Georgia Southern ranks as the 348th tallest team in the league in the country out of 351 teams according to KenPom. So the Eagles are extraordinarily short. Angel Matias is 6-4. He leads the team in rebounding with 6.9 per game. He's also averaging 6.9 points per game and is shooting 48.2% from the floor. Marvin Baynham is 6-7 and the tallest starter. He is averaging 5.1 rebounds per game. He plays a lot of minutes, but takes less than four shots per game. He still shoots 72.4%f from the floor. Brian Holmes has knocked down 23 threes on 46.9% shooting from three point range.
The Eagles are a mediocre rebounding team, but not terrible considering their height. The Eagles scored 32.5% of their shots on threes, which ranks 48th in the country. Only 45.9% of their points come on twos, which is good for 302nd in the country.
Bussey and Hewitt against Sumler and James Sinclair out on the perimeter should be very entertaining. The question for Georgia Southern may be how they are going to contain King inside. King will control the boards in this one it appears. That being said, Hewitt and Bussey should both score against the Catamounts defense. This could turn into a three point shootout between Sumler and Tankelwicz against Bussey and Hewitt. That should be a lot of fun. I think this will be one of the most interesting games of the whole season in the SoCon. I have no idea who will win this game, truthfully. But that being said, the Catamounts are playing well right now. They haven't taken it on the road yet, but something tells me they take it there this time. Western Carolina 71, Georgia Southern 70.