CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern will meet Georgia Southern in a charity exhibition game Tuesday in Statesboro, Ga. Tipoff at Hanner Fieldhouse is slated for 7 p.m., and live stats will be available through the Eagles' website. Tickets are $5, with all funds raised going toward the American Red Cross's effort to assist victims of Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael.
In addition to pitching into a worthy cause, the contest offers CSU a chance to test itself against a Georgia Southern team expected to contend for the Sun Belt Conference title. The Eagles won 21 games a year ago, return three starters and were picked to finished second in the Sun Belt Preseason Poll.
CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh is looking forward to seeing how his team handles a game-like atmosphere against a quality opponent.
"First of all, I'm glad we can take part in a game like this that hopefully generates support to help affected communities," Radebaugh said. "Coach (Mark) Byington is a good friend of mine and we certainly jumped at the opportunity to make this happen."
"Basketball-wise, this will be a great test for our guys," Radebaugh continued. "Mark has built an outstanding program at Georgia Southern and we'll be challenged in every way. It'll be a great experience for us and we're excited to compete and improve as we get ready to start the season next week."
Georgia Southern is led by senior guard Tookie Brown, a three-time First Team All-Sun Belt pick who is just 153 points away from becoming the program's all-time leading scorer (in Division I era). The Eagles also feature Ike Smith, a preseason third team all-conference selection who averaged 12 points and over four rebounds last year.
Tuesday's matchup will be the first between the programs since 1986. It should also offer somewhat of a preview for the Bucs' challenging non-conference slate that includes trips to Florida, Middle Tennessee State, Marquette and Clemson. CSU will tip off its campaign next Tuesday, Nov. 6 at home against Columbia International, with tipoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Finishing on a high note
Charleston Southern was 2-7 and tied for last place at the halfway mark of Big South Conference play but staged a remarkable turnaround to finish 9-9 and tied for fifth. CSU and regular season champion UNC Asheville, at 7-2, shared the league's best record during the back half of league play. The Bucs' only losses in that stretch came by a combined seven points - by two at Gardner-Webb and by five in overtime to Asheville.
Keeling back for junior year
Christian Keeling returns to lead CSU after becoming just the fifth player in Big South history to reach 1,000 career points as a sophomore. Keeling earned All-Big South Second Team honors while ranking second in the conference in scoring, sixth in steals, seventh in minutes played, eighth in free-throw percentage and tenth in rebounding. He was the centerpiece of CSU's late surge, averaging 19.3 PPG and 5.5 RPG over the year's final 11 games. Keeling paced CSU in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and minutes.
Impact freshmen class now sophomores
Along with Keeling, freshmen Phlandrous Fleming Jr., Ty Jones, Deontaye Buskey and Sean Price were integral to CSU's success in February. Fleming led the group on his way to finishing as runner-up for Big South Freshman of the Year honors. He ranked second among all league freshmen in scoring, and led all league rookies and tied for 11th overall in steals. Fleming capped the regular season in style, tallying a career-high 26 points to lead CSU to its first win at Winthrop since 2002.