ATLANTA-Georgia State will play the first of two televised games this week hosting Southern Miss, an NCAA Tournament team from a year ago, on Tuesday in the Sports Arena. The game will air live on CSS with tip-off set for 7 p.m.
The Panthers enter Tuesday’s contest at 5-5 coming off a tough loss at Troy on Saturday. Southern Miss (7-3) more than doubled-up Grambling State, 93-45, on Saturday evening to snap a three-game losing streak.
Matt Stewart and Stan Lewter will call the game on CSS. It will be the Panthers final non-conference home game of the year.
The game can be heard live on WRAS-FM 88.5 beginning with the Panther Pregame Show at 6:30 p.m. Live stats and live video will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com.
A pre-game event for PAC donors of the $100 level and higher is also set for Monday starting an hour before the Panthers tip. Donors can meet, network and enjoy food and beverages in the PAC Lounge on the third floor of the GSU Sports Arena. To register, please call 404-413-4144.
Georgia State will be partnering with The Nicholas House for a "Teddy Bear Toss.” Fans are encouraged to bring a teddy bear to the game with them and when the time comes, toss it on the floor. Athletics will hand the bears off to The Nicholas House to present to youngsters whose families are less fortunate at this time.
It has been a tale of two halves for the Panthers this season and it was no more evident than on Saturday at Troy. GSU trailed by as many at 16 points in the first half to the Trojans, but took a five-point lead late in the second half before falling, 57-56.
“This has kind of been the story all year,” commented head coach Ron Hunter after Saturday’s loss. “We come out slow and then fight back. We have been fortunate this season that we have been able to rally from big first-half deficits, but unfortunately it caught up to us on Saturday.”
Along with the slow starts, Georgia State’s Achilles Heel has been free throw shooting. The Panthers are hitting just 65.4 percent from the free throw line. GSU went 15-of-23 from the line at Troy, including a pair of misses with less than one second remaining.
“We have been shooting just about 65 percent from the free throw line and that is not good enough to win,” continued Hunter. “We have not shot well from the line all season and in close games, the team that makes its free throws will be the one that wins every time.”
Junior point guard Devonta White, who earned Preseason All-CAA Second Team honors this year, has continued to be the backbone of the team this season. White leads the team in scoring with 14.9 points per game, 10th in the CAA, and minutes, 35.7, fourth in the league. One of three team captains, White is also averaging 2.8 assists and 2.4 steals per game, second in the CAA.
White is just 309 points away from becoming the 17th Panther with 1,000 career points. He is on pace to eclipse that mark by the end of the year, needing to average 14.7 points per game in the remaining regular season contests.
Freshman R.J. Hunter, the only son of head coach Ron Hunter, is scoring 14.0 points per game and is tied for fifth in the CAA making 1.8 three-pointers per game. He is 15th in the CAA in scoring and rebounding, averaging 6.1 per game. He has already been named CAA Rookie of the Week twice this season.
Hunter is also among the CAA leaders in free throw percentage, three-point percentage, steals and defensive rebounds.
Redshirt-junior Manny Atkins enters Tuesday’s contest after just missing a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds at Troy. The Virginia Tech transfer has scored 99 points in his last six games.
Atkins is averaging 13.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 80.8 percent from the free throw line, third best in the CAA. He leads the CAA in three-point field goal percentage, hitting 46.2 percent from beyond the arc. He is also tied for fifth in the CAA making 1.8 three-pointers per game.
Redshirt-sophomore Cameron Solomon made his first career start against Southern Poly, but has become one of the Panthers top players off the bench this season. He has is averaging 6.6 points per game, fourth best on the team, despite playing just 13.6 minutes per contest. Solomon finished with nine points in 14 minutes at Troy.
Southern Miss is led by senior Dwayne Davis who is averaging 14.1 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, while Michael Craig averages 11.7 points and Jonathan Mills contributes 10.4 and a team-high 7.0 rebounds per contest.
The Golden Eagles are led by first year head coach Donnie Tyndall who was previously at Morehead State and led the Eagles to the postseason in three of the past four seasons.
Following Tuesday’s contest, Georgia State will take to the road on Saturday to face Rhode Island. The 2 p.m. tip-off can be seen live on Cox Sports. The Panthers do not return home until Jan. 2 when they open CAA play with Drexel.