Statesboro, Ga. – Furman built a 19-point first half lead and weathered a late Georgia Southern run to claim a 74-56 Southern Conference men's basketball victory over the Eagles on Saturday afternoon at Hanner Fieldhouse.
Senior Amu Saaka guided the Paladins with 21 points while Darryl Evans and Justin Dehm poured in 14 apiece to help Furman improve to 12-5 overall and 4-2 in the SoCon with its first win in Statesboro since 2006. Georgia Southern dipped to 4-15 overall and 0-6 in league play.
Jordan Miller, Evans and Saaka buried back-to-back-to-back three-pointers to ignite a 20-2 run that gave Furman a 22-4 advantage on Dehm's trey with 11:52 left in the first half. Evans, who record all of his 14 points in the first half and collected a career-best five steals, drained consecutive threes down the stretch and recorded a steal to set up another basket as Furman extended its lead to 42-23 at the intermission.
Georgia Southern netted the first eight points of the second half to pull within 11 before Furman pushed the margin back to 17 at 55-38 when Bobby Austin finished a Furman run with a three-pointer with just under 13 minutes remaining. The Eagles chipped away at the deficit and cut the lead to six points at 60-54 with only 5:23 left when Rory Spencer scored nine straight points for GSU, but Dehm drained a three-pointer on the next possession to start a 10-0 Paladin run that Saaka capped with a trey at 2:44 to up the advantage to 70-54.
Furman shot 52.3% from the field, including a season-best 63.6% in the first half. The Paladins, who also got eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds from Noah States, managed a 31-30 edge on the boards and buried a season-best 13 three-pointers on 26 attempts.
Ben Drayton led Georgia Southern with 16 points and six rebounds while Spencer added 13 and Zuri James scored 12 points. The Eagles shot just 36% from the floor and made only 5-of-20 three-point attempts.
Furman returns home on Thursday, January 20, to host Samford before entertaining Chattanooga on Saturday, January 22.
Tickets for both games are available at the Timmons Arena Box Office and online at www.FurmanPaladins.com. The All-Inclusive Ticket, "IT", costs $12 for a lower level reserved seat and $8 for an upper level general admission seat. The ticket entitles fans to unlimited trips to the Timmons Arena concession stands for hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and sodas.
Paladin fans can follow all of the action with the "Voice of the Paladins" Chuck Hussion and color commentator Ron Smith on the Furman Sports Network at WGOG-FM 96.3 and WOLT-FM 103.3. Furman basketball can also be heard through Stretch Audio at www.furmanpaladins.com.