ATLANTA-Georgia State will return home Saturday to face Towson at 2 p.m. in the first of two straight home games for the Panthers. GSU will also welcome back nearly 50 years of men’s basketball alumni as part of a weekend of festivities at the Sports Arena.
Georgia State (12-13, 7-5 CAA) has won six of eight, including three-straight at home, while Towson (13-12, 8-4 CAA) has won three straight, including an impressive 20-point win over Delaware on Wednesday night.
Freshman R.J. Hunter, who swept CAA Player and Rookie of the Week honors on Monday to go along with Lou Henson National Player of the Week honors, continued his hot play on Wednesday, scoring 26 points at UNCW, the most points scored by an opponent in Trask Coliseum this season. In the last three games, Hunter is averaging 30.3 points per game, solidifying CAA Rookie of the Year honors and making a push for CAA Player of the Year and Freshman All-America honors.
“Offensively we played well on Wednesday night,” commented head coach Ron Hunter. “We just missed one too many assignments on defense which led to some easy shots for the Seahawks. We have been playing a lot of games on the road and our team is looking forward to getting home as we know our fans will give us a great home court advantage.”
Saturday’s game can be heard live on WRAS-FM 88.5 beginning with the Panther Pregame Show at 1:30 p.m. with the ‘Voice of the Panthers’ Dave Cohen and former Panther Rodney “Truck” Turner calling the action. 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 Saturday 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 welcome back former men’s basketball players during the game. During each media time-out, one decade of players will be welcomed back to the court. Following the game, a reception will be held for the former players on the third floor of the Sports Arena. To sign-up, former players can contact Nate Summers at 404-413-4056.
Saturday also marks the fourth annual Great Baby Race that will take place at halftime of the game. Eight babies will compete for great prizes, including several gift cards over the 25-foot track.
R.J. Hunter continues to lead all CAA freshmen in scoring and rebounding and is one of just five freshmen in the country averaging at least 17.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. He is in an elite group that includes the likes of UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad, UNLV’s Anthony Bennett and Arizona State’s Jahii Carson. He is currently fourth in the nation among all freshman scorers and 60th overall.
Hunter, who was named CAA Rookie of the Week for a sixth time on Monday while collecting his first CAA Player of the Week, is averaging the most points of any CAA freshmen since the 1999-2000 season. He is also on pace to score the most points of any GSU freshmen ever. With six games remaining, he has scored 442 points and is just 73 points shy Matt O’Brien’s 1989-90 mark of 515.
R.J. Hunter, the only son of head coach Ron Hunter is averaging a team-high 17.7 points per game and 20.1 points in CAA-only games, which leads the conference. He is also collecting 5.4 rebounds per game, the 17th best mark in the conference. He is making 2.6 three-pointers per game, second in the league and shooting 39.3 percent from beyond the arc, also fourth in the conference and 44th in the nation.
Hunter, along with redshirt-junior Manny Atkins are among the top four in the conference in three-point shooting, as the Panthers are second in the league as a team making 36.6 percent from behind the arc, the 65th best percentage in the NCAA. GSU is making 7.1 three-pointers per game, tops in the CAA.
“We have shot the ball extremely well from three-point range,” continued Ron Hunter. “Especially in the second half of the season, we are distributing the ball better which is giving our guys much better looks from the outside.”
R.J. 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 fourth in the CAA in minutes played (35.9) and fifth in steals per game, averaging 1.7 per game.
White is second on the team in scoring, averaging 14.2 points per game, 11th in the CAA, while dishing out 3.8 assists, fourth in the league. The junior scored 16 of his 19 points on Wednesday at UNCW in the second half, helping the Panthers nearly overcome a 14-point second half deficit. White has dished out 54 assists in his last 10 games, including three games of at least seven assists.
One of three team captains, White, who missed 10 games during his freshman season due to an injury, is just 104 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 17.3 points per game in the remaining regular season contests.
Atkins, who is also having an All-CAA caliber season, has just missed four double-doubles this season by one rebound and another four double-doubles by just two rebounds. Atkins collected his first double-double of the season at Drexel on Jan. 26.
From nearby Tucker, Ga., the Virginia Tech transfer is averaging 13.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game this season, both among the top 13 in the CAA. He leads the CAA in three-point field goal percentage, hitting 41.9 percent from beyond the arc and is eight in the CAA making 1.8 three-pointers per game.
He is fourth in the CAA hitting 82.6 percent from the free throw line, including an 87.5 percent mark in CAA only games. Atkins is 93rd in the nation in the latest rankings released on Friday.
Lone senior James Vincent played in his 111th game on Wednesday to move into a tie for ninth on the all-time games played list. He is third on GSU’s all-time blocked shots list with 121 and his 59 blocked shots this season are the fourth most in a single season in GSU history.
He is leading the CAA averaging 2.4 blocked shots per game, which also ranks 34th in the NCAA this year.
Towson is led by junior-transfer Jerrelle Benimon, averaging a double-double of 17.2 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Shooting 53.4 percent from the floor, Benimon has helped improve a Towson team that won just one game a season ago and is now five wins from the biggest turnaround in NCAA history.
The Panthers will continue its home-stand on Wednesday welcoming Hofstra to the Sports Arena at 7 p.m. Tickets for that game can be purchased by calling 1-866-GA-STATE or going online to GeorgiaStateSports.com.