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Courtesy: Will Bratton/Will Bratton Photography
Manny Atkins led the Panthers with a career-high 26 points on Wednesday.

Panthers Hold off South Alabama, 75-73, for Third Straight

Courtesy: Mike Holmes/Sports Communications
Release: November 21, 2012
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ATLANTA-Manny Atkins scored 26 points and R.J. Hunter added 25 as Georgia State held off South Alabama, 75-73, in the final game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic Atlanta Subregional at the GSU Sports Arena. 

GSU won three games in the three-day event to improve to 3-2 on the season, while South Alabama dropped three straight to fall to 2-3, despite 31 points and 11 rebounds by Augustine Rubit.

Atkins, the transfer from Virginia Tech, scored 19 of his 26 points in the first half, while the freshman Hunter did most of his damage in the second half with 14 points in the final 13 minutes.  Both players achieved career highs less than 24 hours after the duo combined to hit just three of 18 shots in yesterday’s GSU win.

Atkins hit six of seven shots from the field with four three-pointers in his first-half barrage. Georgia State shot 52 percent from the field in the half, including 8-for-14 from three-point range, to open a 43-35 lead at the intermission.

“It can be hard to play three games in three days, but our team rose to the occasion today,” commented head coach Ron Hunter after the game. “In our first few games, our defense was keeping us in the game. Today our offense got going. When we start to play as well as I know we can on both ends of the court, we are going to be a very dangerous team.

“Manny played really well today. He played like a team leader and captain should and I expect a lot more of these types of games out of him. Manny is a very talented player and he showed that on the court today.

The Panthers led 47-37 with 17 minutes to play when the Jaguars reeled off 10 straight points, tying the game at 47-all on Mychal Ammons’ three-pointer at 14:34.

Devonta White’s layup gave the Panthers a lead they would not relinquish, and then Hunter hit back-to-back three-pointers to push the GSU advantage to 55-49.

South Alabama would stay within striking distance the rest of the way. A layup by Rubit pulled the Jaguars within 64-63 at the 4:48 mark, but Hunter answered with a three-point play and then two free throws. Atkins nailed a three-pointer, his first field goal of the second half, to increase the GSU lead to 72-64 with 2:22 left.

The Jaguars had one more run. Trailing 74-67 after an Atkins bucket at 1:30, Xavier Robinson hit back-to-back three-pointers, and suddenly, GSU’s lead was just 74-73 with 35 seconds to go. Hunter was fouled with 16 seconds left and made one of two free throws. South Alabama advanced the ball over half court and called timeout, but the Jaguars failed to get off a good shot in the final seconds.

Cameron Solomon joined Atkins and Hunter in double figures with 10 points off the bench for GSU, while White finished with nine.

Georgia State shot 50 percent for the game, including 11-for-18 from three-point range, but the Panthers were outrebounded 36-26.

In Wednesday’s first game in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic Atlanta Subregional, Monmouth defeated Tennessee State, 81-70.

Georgia State continues its five-game homestand by hosting East Carolina Monday at 7 p.m. at the GSU Sports Arena. Tickets for the “Night-White” game can be purchased by calling 1-866-GA-STATE or going online to GeorgiaStateSports.com. Fans are encouraged to wear white to the Monday night affair and free t-shirts will be handed out.

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