ATLANTA-Georgia State will face Georgia Southern on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m., closing out the non-conference portion of the Panthers schedule at Hanner Fieldhouse in Statesboro. The Panthers have won four-of-five from the Eagles, including a 20-point win in Atlanta last season.
Georgia State (5-7) has not played since last Saturday, a tough 65-60 loss to Rhode Island, the Panthers third loss in a row. Georgia Southern (5-7) split a pair of games last weekend, defeating Mississippi Valley State and falling to North Florida as part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic.
The game can be heard live on WRAS-FM 88.5 beginning with the Panther Pregame Show at 2:30 p.m. Live stats will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com.
Georgia State’s three losses have come by a total of eight points, including one and two-point defeats to Troy and Southern Miss.
The Panthers have also won their fair share of close games already this season. Georgia State defeated Tennessee State on a half-court buzzer-beater by Rashaad Richardson and then a night later, survived a two-point victory over South Alabama as a part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Less than two weeks later, Richardson provided the heroics again hitting a three-pointer with less than three seconds remaining to give GSU a come-from-behind win over Liberty.
“We are a young team and these are some of the growing pains that you have to go through,” commented head coach Ron Hunter. “Our team is playing hard and leaving everything out on the court and that is all that you can ask for.
“Our team was winning the close games early in the season. Unfortunately, those games are going against us right now. Hopefully we can finish out the non-conference portion of our schedule with a positive and get ready to face our final season in the CAA.”
Junior point guard Devonta White, who earned Preseason All-CAA Second Team honors before the season and was named to the Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last week, has continued to be the backbone of the team this season.
White was one of just three point guards in the CAA to be named to the watch list.
White is second on the team in scoring, averaging 14.7 points per game, 11th in the CAA, and minutes, 36.2 per contest, second in the league. One of three team captains, White is also averaging 2.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game, tops in the CAA.
The junior, who missed 10 games during his freshman season due to an injury, is just 282 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 14.8 points per game in the remaining regular season contests.
R.J. Hunter, the only son of head coach Ron Hunter, leads all CAA freshmen in scoring and rebounding. He was named CAA Rookie of the Week on Monday following a pair of 20-plus point performances against Southern Miss and Rhode Island.
Hunter is averaging a team-high 15.6 points, eighth in the CAA, and 5.9 rebounds per game. He is also collecting 2.2 three-pointers per game, third best in the league and shooting 35.1 percent from beyond the arc, seventh in the conference.
Hunter is also among the CAA leaders in free throw percentage, steals blocked shots and defensive rebounds.
Redshirt-junior Manny Atkins enters Saturday’s contest after a 14-point, nine-rebound effort against Rhode Island. The Virginia Tech transfer has scored 126 points in his last eight games, a 15.8 points per game average.
Atkins has missed three double-doubles this season by just one rebound and another two double-doubles by just two rebounds.
From nearby Tucker, Ga., Atkins is averaging 13.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game this season, while shooting 77.8 percent from the free throw line, eighth best in the CAA. He is third in the CAA in three-point field goal percentage, hitting 41.7 percent from beyond the arc. He is also eighth in the CAA making 1.7 three-pointers per game.
Georgia Southern is led by Eric Ferguson who is averaging 14.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. C.J. Reed and Tre Bussey are also averaging in double figures for a squad averaging 59.7 points per game.
This will mark the 45th meeting between the two schools who were conference foes in the Trans America Athletic Conference (now Atlantic Sun). The Eagles lead the series 31-13, but the two schools have played just three times since 1996, all three coming in the last three years.
Following Saturday’s contest, Georgia State will open Colonial Athletic Association play on Wednesday facing preseason favorite Drexel in the Sports Arena at 7 p.m.