ATLANTA-James Fields tied his career-high with 21 points and grabbed a career-best eight rebounds as Georgia State won its 10th straight home game with a 74-58 victory over James Madison Monday at the GSU Sports Arena.
Josh Micheaux added a double-double with 15 points and a career-high 11 rebounds, along with six assists, as GSU used a strong second half to snap its two-game losing streak and improve to 14-6 overall, 6-3 in the CAA. Eric Buckner had 13 points, eight rebounds and six blocks for the Panthers.
Buckner jumped into second place on the Panthers all-time blocks list with 114 and is just 14 shy of tying Zavian Smith for the school record. He has 65 blocks this season, second most in school history and among the top 10 in the nation.
Ahead by just three points at the half, Georgia State still led by just five at 40-35 early in the second half when the Panthers used an 11-3 run over the next five minutes to build a 51-38 advantage with 10:30 to play. A key sequence was back-to-back baskets by backup center James Vincent, who contributed eight points and three blocks off the bench.
"Mental toughness won this game for us tonight," commented first year head coach Ron Hunter. "I am really proud of our team tonight. In any sport you play, you are going to have peaks and valleys. We have been in a valley and tonight we took the first step to climbing the mountain."
James Madison,led by Humpty Hitchens with 15 points, fell to 9-11, 2-7.
Getting back to the aggressive defense that keyed its strong start, Georgia State forced 21 James Madison turnovers, blocked 11 shots and limited the Dukes to 34.5 percent shooting from the field. Jihad Ali grabbed five of the Panthers' 14 steals and also blocked two shots, while Fields added three steals. GSU also outrebounded JMU, 42-36.
"James Fields and Josh Micheaux are two of the most mentally tough guys I know," continued Hunter. "They each stepped up in their own way tonight and really helped us out. Each know their strengths and weaknesses and played to their strengths tonight."
Georgia State found itself behind, 21-13, in the first half, but the Panthers scored 14 straight points, fueled by its defensive pressure to take a 27-21 lead with 4:36 to play.
GSU forced six straight turnovers on the run, and Micheaux and Fields hit back-to-back threes, forcing JMU to call its first time-out.
Jihad Ali's three-pointer at the buzzer sent the Panthers into the locker room with a 33-30 lead.
A.J. Davis added 11 points for the Dukes, while Arman Marks added 10 and five rebounds.
Georgia State faces its third road test in the last four games with a trip to Drexel Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Philadelphia, Pa. The Panthers then return home to host VCU Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Sports Arena. Tickets are available by calling 866-GA-STATE or visiting GeorgiaStateSports.com.
Fans can visit GeorgiaStateSports.com or call 1-866-GA-STATE to purchase tickets for the game or for tickets for the Panthers remaining five home games.