Georgia Southern (4-6) vs. Mississippi Valley State (0-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 22, 3 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Orleans Arena (9,500) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: None. Home Record: GSU 2-1, MVSU 0-0. Away Record: GSU 2-5, MVSU 0-7. Neutral Record: GSU 0-0, MVSU 0-0. Conference Record: GSU 0-2, MVSU 0-0. Series Record: Mississippi Valley State leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: Third-round action of the 2012 Las Vegas Classic tips off on Saturday afternoon, as the Georgia Southern Eagles clash with the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils at Orleans Arena.
The winner will advance to play either Cal-State Bakersfield or North Florida on Sunday, with the losers matching up as well.
MVSU has played an extremely difficult early-season schedule, which has resulted in a winless record. It has played all of its games on the road, losing to the likes of Ole Miss (93-57), Cincinnati (102-60), Northwestern (81-68), LSU (75-50) and Virginia (67-39). The Delta Devils' luck did not change in the early rounds of this event, as they fell to Virginia Tech (70-49) and Bradley (77-42).
Georgia Southern hasn't had quite the difficult road that MVSU has, and it has picked up four wins in 10 tries. The Eagles notched their most impressive win of the season on Dec. 15, shocking Virginia on the road in the first round of the Classic, 78-73, although they followed that up with a 62-43 loss at the hands of Bradley on Monday.
MVSU has won both previous meetings with Georgia Southern, including a 75-64 decision in November of 2010.
By the numbers, the Delta Devils have one of the worst offensive attacks in Division I, as they score just 52.1 ppg and their woeful 30.3 percent field goal shooting is the lowest mark in the country. They haven't scored more than 50 points in any of the last four contests, which includes a 42-point effort against Bradley, a game in which they had nine more turnovers (24) than field goals (15), and they went only 1-of-17 from 3-point range. Rising above the poor play was Julius Francis, who shot 7-of-10 for 21 points, but no other player scored more than four points. Davon Usher is normally MVSU's only consistent source of offense, as he puts up 16.9 ppg, albeit on just 38.6 percent from the field. Matt Smith scores 7.0 ppg and grabs a team-high 7.0 rpg.
Compared to the incredible struggles of MVSU, Georgia Southern has played very well, making 44.4 percent of its field goal attempts for 60.7 ppg, although it still gets outscored by nearly 3.0 ppg. The Eagles put forth one of their worst efforts of the season in the 19-point loss to Bradley earlier in the week, as they made just 17-of-48 from the field (.354) and were outrebounded by a 45-32 margin. C.J. Reed was the only player to score in double figures with 10 points, doing so on 3-of-6 shooting from 3-point range. The scoring effort is usually much more balanced for GSU. Eric Ferguson leads the way with 14.1 ppg, and he also adds team-highs in both rebounds (7.9 rpg) and blocked shots (0.9 bpg). Reed chips in 11.0 ppg on better than 50 percent shooting from beyond the arc (24-of-47), and Cleon Roberts (10.2 ppg) has also shown to be effective from long range (18-of-39). Tre Bussey is just outside the double-digit scorers club with 9.9 ppg.
MVSU's early struggles have to be taken with a grain of salt considering the difficulty of its schedule, but even so, it has shown absolutely no signs of being able to put up points with any sort of regularity. Expect Georgia Southern to use its balanced attack to bounce back in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia Southern 67, Miss. Valley St. 52
12/22 10:32:45 ET