ATLANTA-Georgia State will begin a stretch of three-straight road games on Saturday at George Mason, facing the Patriots live on CSS at 4 p.m. from the Patriot Center. It marks the only time the two schools will meet each other this season and the second straight year the teams will only meet in Fairfax.
Georgia State (13-14, 8-6 CAA) earned an 18-point point victory over Hofstra on Wednesday night and has won seven of its last 10 games. George Mason (15-10, 8-5 CAA) rallied to score a 68-62 victory at Drexel on Thursday night and will be playing its second game in less than 48 hours.
Coming off of a career-high 26 points just a week ago against Towson, redshirt-junior Manny Atkins showed once again why he is a candidate for All-CAA honors this season. On Wednesday against the Pride, Atkins just missed a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds while swiping three steals. The Virginia Tech transfer has just missed five double-doubles by one rebound this season and another four by just two boards.
“Despite struggling on offense on Wednesday, Manny and several others stepped up on defense which got us the victory,” commented head coach Ron Hunter. “When you can force your opponent into 22 turnovers and swipe 14 steals, you are going to get some easy baskets and we were able to take advantage of that.”
Saturday’s game can be heard live on WRAS-FM 88.5 beginning with the Panther Pregame Show at 3:30 p.m. with the ‘Voice of the Panthers’ Dave Cohen calling the action. Live stats will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com.
The game will air live on CSS with Joe Beninati and John Feinstein calling the action. In Atlanta, the game can be found on Comcast Channel 45 and in HD on 805.
Freshman R.J. Hunter swept CAA Player and Rookie of the Week honors last week to go along with Lou Henson National Player of the Week honors. Hunter has solidified CAA Rookie of the Year honors and is making a push for All-CAA First Team honors and Freshman All-America honors.
R.J. Hunter, the only son of head coach Ron Hunter is averaging a team-high 17.1 points per game and 18.7 points in CAA-only games, which is third in the conference. He is also collecting 5.3 rebounds per game, the 19th best mark in the CAA. Hunter is making 2.4 three-pointers per game, third in the league and shooting 37.1 percent from beyond the arc, fourth in the conference and 50th in the nation.
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 freshmen scorers and 60th overall.
Hunter 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 four games remaining, he has scored 463 points and is just 52 points shy Matt O’Brien’s 1989-90 mark of 515.
Hunter, along with 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 36.1 percent from behind the arc, the 71st best percentage in the NCAA. GSU is making 7.0 three-pointers per game, second in the CAA.
R.J. Hunter is also among the CAA leaders in free throw percentage, steals, blocked shots and defensive rebounds.
“Our young players are producing at a much better level the second half of the season,” continued Hunter. “R.J. has had a very good season, but our other freshmen, David Travers, Markus Crider, T.J. Shipes and LaRon Smith, are really stepping up to give us better minutes off the bench and that is what we need to be successful.”
Travers tied a career-high with eight points in 13 minutes on Wednesday, while Smith came off the bench to play a career-high 14 minutes, going 4-of-6 from the free throw line and blocking a shot.
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 (36.2) and tied for fourth in steals per game, averaging 1.7 per game.
White is second on the team in scoring, averaging 14.3 points per game, 10th in the CAA, while dishing out 3.9 assists, third most in the league. He has dished out 64 assists in his last 12 games, including four 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 71 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 17.8 points per game in the remaining regular season contests.
Manny Atkins, from nearby Tucker, Ga., is averaging 14.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game this season, both among the top 12 in the CAA. He is third in the CAA in three-point field goal percentage, hitting 41.9 percent from beyond the arc and is sixth in the CAA making 1.8 three-pointers per game.
He is third in the CAA hitting 82.7 percent from the free throw line, including an 86.7 percent mark in CAA only games. Atkins is 78th in free throw percentage in the nation in the latest rankings released on Monday.
Lone senior James Vincent played in his 113th game on Wednesday to move into a tie for seventh on the all-time games played list. He is second on GSU’s all-time blocked shots list with 129 and his 67 blocked shots this season are the third most in a single season in GSU history.
He is leading the CAA averaging 2.5 blocked shots per game, which also ranks 34th in the NCAA this year.
George Mason is led by Sherrod Wright, averaging 17.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 46.9 percent from the floor. Wright is the only Patriot averaging in double-figures, while Jonathan Arledge, Johnny Williams and Bryon Allen each average around seven points per contest.
Following Saturday’s contest, the Panthers will remain in Virginia to take on William & Mary on Monday night at 7 p.m.