What You Need to Know:
* Georgia State will open a two-game trip through the Carolinas on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at Appalachian State.
* Sophomore D'Marcus Simonds enters play as the reigning Sun Belt Player of the Week after just missing a double-double on Saturday against Arkansas State.
* The Panthers have won two of the last three games with Appalachian State after each team won on its home court last season.
ATLANTA-Looking to build off momentum from a pair of big home wins last week, Georgia State will travel to Boone, N.C. to face Appalachian State on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Holmes Convocation Center.
Georgia State (11-6, 2-2 Sun Belt) swept a pair of games from Little Rock and Arkansas State at home last week as sophomore D’Marcus Simonds just missed a double-double with 33 points and nine rebounds against the Red Wolves on Saturday.
Simonds, who has already scored 30 or more points three times this year, earned Sun Belt Player of the Week honors on Monday.
At 11-6, the Panthers are off to the fourth-best start to a season in program history after tying the school record for the most non-conference wins in school history.
Appalachian State (8-9, 3-1 Sun Belt) comes in following a 79-73 win at UL Monroe on Saturday. The Mountaineers are led by Ronshad Shabazz who is averaging 20.2 points and 3.4 assists per game.
Thursday’s contest can be heard live on 1340 The Fan 3/103.7 FM; WRAS-FM 88.5 and now WXJO-AM 1120/104.5 FM with Dave Cohen, now in his 35th year as the Voice of the Panthers, calling the action. Live statistics and live audio will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com and on most mobile devices.
This marks the second-straight year Georgia State has started conference play 2-2. Last year it resulted in a second-place finish and 12 Sun Belt wins.
“We held serve at home last weekend,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “However now we need to go on the road starting at Appalachian State on Thursday night and face a team that is very good at home. We have had a great week of practice and now we need to take it to the court.”
Georgia State enters play ranked first in the league in turnover margin (+4.9) and steals (8.4), along with second in blocked shots (4.4) and third in field goal percentage defense (40.2) and scoring defense (65.9). The steals per game total ranks No. 24 in the NCAA, while the turnover margin is No. 11.
However, the Panthers’ offense is equally good. Georgia State is second in 3-point field goal percentage (37.3) and fourth in 3-point field goals made per game (8.8) having knocked down 10 or more 3-pointers in the last three games.
Among Georgia State’s most potent offensive options is Simonds who enters Saturday averaging 21.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. His points per game total would set a school record if the season ended today. The reigning Sun Belt Freshman of the Year has scored in double figures in 34-straight games dating back to last year.
Simonds is one of three Panthers scoring in double figures. Junior Devin Mitchell is second on the team averaging 11.6 points per game. He has made a team-high 45 3-pointers and is shooting 44.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Junior Malik Benlevi rounds out the group and is averaging 10.1 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game, shooting a 76.5 percent from the free throw line. He is second in the Sun Belt with 34.2 minutes played per game, only behind Simonds.
- Simonds 21.8 points per game scoring average
isNo. 20 in the NCAA and his total points scored (371) ranks No. 11. He has made 133 total field goals which ranksNo. 6 in the country.
- Simonds ranks in the top four in the Sun Belt in scoring, assists, steals and minutes played.
- Seniors Jordan Session and Isaiah Williams have both reached the 100 career games played mark this season. Last year three Panthers accomplished the mark.
- Isaiah Williams enters play needing just 26 points for 1,000 in his career.
- Junior Jeff Thomas, who is averaging 9.4 points per game, has scored in double figures in six-straight games.
Following the game on Thursday, Georgia State conclude a trip to the Carolinas facing Coastal Carolina in Conway, S.C., on Saturday.
• Georgia State and Appalachian State will meet for the ninth time on Thursday.
• The two teams split the season series last year with each team winning on its home court.
• Georgia State has won two of the last three meetings, but App State is 4-0 at home in the series.
• GSU is coming off a 79-75 win over Arkansas State on Saturday to improve to 6-1 at home this season.
• Sophomore D’Marcus Simonds was named Sun Belt Player of the Week after just missing a double-double with 33 points and nine rebounds against the Red Wolves.
• Georgia State’s 11-6 start is tied for the fourth-best 16-game start in program history.
• Georgia State won nine non-conference games this year, tied for the most in program history.
• The Panthers have won 55 Sun Belt games since returning to the league in 2013. No other program in the league has more than 50 wins during that time.
• Simonds has a pair of double-doubles already this season and has scored in double figures in 34-straight games dating back to last season.
• Simonds is averaging 21.8 points per game which would set a school record if the season ended today. He is currently ranked No. 20 in the NCAA in scoring.
• Georgia State enters play ranked No. 11 in the NCAA with a turnover margin of 4.9 and No. 15 in total steals with 143.
• Ron Hunter, GSU’s all-time leader in wins, won his 400th career game on 11/22 against EWU.
• Hunter has led the Panthers to four of the seven most successful seasons in program history, including a pair of 25-win seasons.
• Isaiah Williams played in his 100th career game earlier this year. He is 26 pts. shy of 1,000 for his career.
• Williams, along with Jordan Session have both surpassed 100 career games played this season.
• Georgia State was picked to finish second in the annual Sun Belt Coaches’ Preseason Poll.
• The Panthers have won 20 or more games in three of the last four seasons, advancing to postseason play in each of those years.
• Since the start of the 2013-14 season, the Panthers have won 96 games, the most of any NCAA Division 1 program in the state of Georgia.
• Following today’s game, Georgia State concludes a trip to the Carolinas by traveling to Conway, S.C., to face Coastal Carolina on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on WatchESPN/ESPN3.