ATLANTA-Coming off of an emotional victory on Wednesday night, Georgia State will embark on a quick two-game road trip beginning Saturday night at 7 p.m. against Old Dominion. The Panthers will play four of their next five games on the road.
Georgia State (7-11, 2-3 CAA) earned a 74-58 victory over William & Mary Wednesday, coming from 14 points down in the first half as coach Ron Hunter went barefoot in support of Samaritan’s Feet. It marked the sixth straight season Hunter went without shoes for a game to raise awareness for the 300 million children worldwide without shoes.
Despite the 2-3 conference record, Georgia State could easily be 4-1 after a pair of back-to-back one possession losses to Hofstra and Delaware. In the Panthers first 18 games, GSU has been involved in seven one possession games, winning the first three, before falling in the last four.
Saturday’s game can be heard live on WRAS-FM 88.5 beginning with the Panther Pregame Show at 6:30 p.m. with the ‘Voice of the Panthers’ Dave Cohen calling the action. Live stats will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com.
In its last two games, Georgia State has shot an impressive 43-47 from the free throw line, a 91.4 percent rate. After struggling from the line earlier in the year, the Panthers are making 80.4 percent in CAA play, upping their season average to 70.0 percent.
Entering Saturday’s game, Georgia State has made 16 straight free throws after going a perfect 14-of-14 in the second half against William & Mary to put the game away. Both Devonta White and Manny Atkins have made their last 10 free throws.
“We have a team that has continued to fight and play hard all season,” commented Hunter. “The hard work is starting to pay off in different areas. I have pushed our guys to work hard at the free throw line and the results are evident in the last two games.
“Confidence can be a dangerous thing. When you have it, you believe that you can beat anyone on any given night. When you do not have it, you can be in trouble before you ever step on the court. The win against William & Mary gave our young team a lot of confidence, but we must keep that momentum going against an Old Dominion team that is going to give us a great challenge.”
Freshman R.J. Hunter, who was limited to 23 minutes after injuring his foot against Delaware, leads all CAA freshmen in scoring and rebounding and is one of just six freshmen in the country averaging at least 15.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. In his first five CAA games, Hunter is averaging 15.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
Hunter has won four CAA Rookie of the Week honors this year and is a leading candidate for rookie of the year honors. He has scored 20-plus points six times this season.
R.J. Hunter, the only son of head coach Ron Hunter is averaging a team-high 15.4 points per game, eighth in the CAA, and 5.9 rebounds per game, the 15th best mark in the conference. He is also collecting 1.9 three-pointers per game, fourth best in the league and shooting 33.7 percent from beyond the arc, also eighth in the conference.
Hunter is also among the CAA leaders in free throw percentage, steals, blocked shots and defensive rebounds.
Junior point guard Devonta White, who earned Preseason All-CAA Second Team honors before the season and was also named to the Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award Watch List by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, is second in the CAA in minutes played (36.4) and third in steals per game, averaging 1.8 per game.
White is second on the team in scoring, averaging 14.0 points per game, 13th in the CAA, while dishing out 3.3 assists, fourth in the league. The junior has dished out 18 assists in his last three games.
One of three team captains, White, who missed 10 games during his freshman season due to an injury, is just 206 points away from becoming the 17th Panther with 1,000 career points. He is just off pace to eclipse that mark by the end of the year, needing to average 15.8 points per game in the remaining regular season contests.
Redshirt-junior Manny Atkins has missed three double-doubles this season by just one rebound and another four double-doubles by just two rebounds. He finished with 21 points and five rebounds against William & Mary, going a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line while also swiping five steals.
From nearby Tucker, Ga., the Virginia Tech transfer is averaging 13.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game this season, both among the top 15 in the CAA. Atkins is also shooting 80.0 percent from the free throw line, the fifth best mark in the CAA. He leads the CAA in three-point field goal percentage, hitting 40.3 percent from beyond the arc. He is also eighth in the CAA making 1.6 three-pointers per game.
Lone senior James Vincent played in his 100th career game earlier this season against Drexel and has moved into the top five in GSU history in blocked shots. His eight-block performance against James Madison was the third most in a single-game in school history. Earlier this year, he blocked nine shots against Monmouth to tie the school record.
He is second in the CAA averaging 2.4 blocked shots per game.
Old Dominion (2-15, 0-5 CAA) is led by DeShawn Painter, the team’s only double-digit scorer, averaging 11.6 points per game. However, the Monarchs do have six players averaging at least 7.0 points per game.
Last time out, the Monarchs dropped a 65-60 decision to UNCW, the Panthers next home opponent. Old Dominion’s last win came on Dec. 22 as the Monarchs topped Virginia, 63-61.
Following Saturday’s game, Georgia State will bus from Norfolk to Baltimore to prepare to face Towson on Monday night at 7 p.m. The Panthers will return home to face UNCW on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m.