ATLANTA--James Fields scored a career-high 18 points to lead Georgia State to its school-record ninth straight victory in dominating fashion, 72-52 over Georgia Southern Thursday at the GSU Sports Arena.
The nine-game winning streak by the Panthers (9-3) surpasses the school's previous high of eight in a row, set by Georgia State's 2000-01 NCAA Tournament team coached by Charles "Lefty" Driesell.
Devonta White added 17 points and four steals, and three other Panthers were in double figures, including Eric Buckner with 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Georgia State forced 26 turnovers by Georgia Southern (3-7).
Fields shot 7-of-11 from the floor, including 2-of-2 from three-point range while dishing out five assists and four steals after being named to the Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award Watch List on Monday.
"I have been really focused all week for this game," commented Fields, who played high school ball about 30 minutes from Georgia Southern's campus. "This streak has been a great experience for me and our entire team. I have been here for four years and it feels great to set this record and have all of these wins."
Georgia State is off to its best start since the 2000-01 season in which the Panthers began the year 11-1. The Panthers improved to 6-0 at home this season.
"I have been coaching basketball for 24 years and I don't know if I have ever been as happy for a group of guys as I am tonight," commented first year head coach Ron Hunter after the game. "A lot of times with seniors it takes a long time to jell, but these guys bought in quickly and it is now leading to great things."
Leading 10-8 early in the first half, Georgia State opened the game with a 17-4 run over an eight-minute stretch to build a 27-12 lead.
The Panthers held the lead 36-23 at halftime and continued to build the lead in the second half.
After Georgia Southern's Ben Drayton cut the lead to seven with 16:58 to play in the second half, Georgia State responded with an 8-0 run, capped by a Fields jumper to push the lead to 44-29.
The Eagles made one final run at State, as Tre Bussey's three-pointer with 12:57 to play cut the Panthers lead to 10.
Georgia State responded with a 14-0 run, capped by another Fields lay-up to with 10:08 to play as the Panthers took at 60-36 lead, a margin they would later build to 27 with 5:55 to play.
Freshman Tony Kimbro Jr. came off the bench to score 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting, while redshirt-senior Jihad Ali added 10 points and six rebounds, to go along with three assists and three steals.
With his two blocks, Buckner moved into fifth place on Georgia State's all-time blocks list with 85, surpassing Sylvester Morgan.
Drayton led the Eagles with 11 points and four rebounds, while Bussey came off the bench to score 10 points.
Georgia State came away with 26 points off 26 Georgia Southern turnovers, finishing the game with 14 steals. State outscored the Eagles 38-16 in the paint and scored 17 second chance points, as compared to just two for Georgia Southern.
The Panthers have now won three straight home games in the series and four of the last five with Georgia Southern.
Georgia State will take the next 10 days off before returning to CAA action on Jan. 2, facing Drexel at 7 p.m. in the Sports Arena.
Both season and individual game tickets for the 2011-12 season continue to be on sale. A variety of packages can be found by visiting GeorgiaStateSports.com or by calling 1-866-GA-STATE.