Georgia Southern holds off Samford 80-78

STATESBORO, Ga. (AP) -- Jelani Hewitt scored 23 points and Tre Bussey added 22 more Saturday as Georgia Southern held off Samford 80-78 to win its final Southern Conference opener.

The Eagles (8-8, 1-0 Southern) took the lead midway through the first half on a 12-1 run that included 3-pointers by Hewitt and Brian Holmes, carrying a 40-33 advantage into the break and then holding off two Samford challenges in the second half to preserve the win.

Kyle Doyle contributed 12 points and Holmes had 10 for Georgia Southern, which is leaving the Southern Conference at the end of this season to play in the Sun Belt Conference.

Samford (6-11, 0-2) opened the second half with a 6-1 spurt fueled by Chris Longoria, who hit a 3-pointer and two layups to shave Georgia Southern's lead to a point at 41-39, but couldn't regain the lead.

Tim Williams led the Bulldogs with 23 points.

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