Flying under the radar won't be an option for first-year coach Dip Metress and his Jaguars. Not after how they've performed at home.
Three top-20 opponents have departed Christenberry Fieldhouse with a loss this season. In fact, Augusta State has surrendered just one defeat in 12 games on its home floor.
Will home-court advantage come into play this week for the Jaguars?
North No. 3 seed Augusta State plays host to South No. 6 seed Georgia College & State at 8 p.m. today in the first-round of the Peach Belt Conference Men's Tournament at Christenberry Fieldhouse.
Other first-round games today include: North No. 6 UNC Pembroke vs. South No. 3 Columbus State, 1 p.m.; North No. 4 Francis Marion vs. South No. 5 Armstrong Atlantic State at 3; and North No. 5 USC Aiken vs. South No. 4 North Florida at 6.
"Nobody's going to come in here and take us lightly," Metress said. "Our first-round game is going to be against a team we've already lost to. We're a young team, Hopefully, we'll be able to focus."
Along with defending Division II and two-time Peach Belt champion Kennesaw State and North Division champion USC Upstate, the Jaguars (17-10) are bona fide tournament contenders. Augusta State ended the regular season on a six-game winning streak, its last loss coming at Georgia College & State on a last-second Ronnie Dennis jumper.
With six freshmen on its roster, Augusta State has overcome youth and inexperience to post an almost unblemished mark at home after going 5-8 there a season before.
With wins over No. 16 West Georgia, No. 9 Kennesaw State and No. 8 USC Upstate, the Jaguars have reason to poke their chests out a bit.
But freshman Cameron Tovey said his team this week might as well be playing on a neutral site.
"I don't think home-court advantage means too much," he said. "At the end of the day, if we play harder and we play better we'll win. We can't rely on the home-court advantage, because we've got to win it ourselves."
Augusta State guard Karim Telfer, the top Peach Belt free-throw shooter (87 percent), leads his team in scoring (12.6 points). Tovey posted averages of 11.6 points and 7.4 boards during the regular season.
USC Aiken (6-20) enters the tournament on a 10-game losing streak.
Since interim coach Steve Franklin took over in late December, the Pacers have won just twice - both victories coming against UNC Pembroke.
North Florida defeated USC Aiken in their regular season meeting, 82-75.
Josh Geyer is the lone Pacer averaging double digits, scoring at 10 points a game.
All games at Christenberry Fieldhouse.
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