ATLANTA-Georgia State will play one for the history books on Saturday, facing James Madison in the Panthers final Colonial Athletic Association road game before moving to the Sun Belt Conference next season. The Panthers will square off with the Dukes at the JMU Convocation Center with tip-off set for 4 p.m.
Georgia State (14-15, 9-7 CAA) has won two of its last three, including a split of games earlier this week in Virginia. James Madison (16-13, 10-6 CAA) has also won two of its last three, falling by two to first place Northeastern on Wednesday night, 66-64.
The Panthers are looking to win their final two games and finish above .500 for the second straight season under second-year head coach Ron Hunter.
“Although we will not be playing in the CAA Tournament, we still have a lot to play for,” commented Hunter. “There is a big difference between finishing just above .500 or just below. Our team has come a long way this season and there is no doubt in my mind that they will give their full effort the last two games to finish the regular season with a winning record.”
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 and live video will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com.
R.J. Hunter finished with 15 points against William & Mary on Monday, while redshirt-junior Manny Atkins just missed another double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds. It marked the sixth time this season that Atkins just missed a double-double by one board.
Hunter is making a late season push for All-CAA First Team honors and Freshman All-America honors. He continues to lead all CAA freshmen in scoring and rebounding and is one of just four freshmen in the country averaging at least 17.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. The elite group includes 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 68th overall.
R.J. Hunter, the only son of head coach Ron Hunter, is averaging a team-high 17.3 points per game and 18.9 points in CAA-only games, both of which are third in the conference. He is also collecting 5.2 rebounds per game, 20th in the CAA, and making 2.4 three-pointers per game, third in the league. Hunter is shooting 37.2 percent from beyond the arc, fifth in the conference.
Hunter is also 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 two regular season games remaining, he has scored 503 points and is just 12 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 making 7.1 three-pointers per game.
R.J. Hunter is also among the CAA leaders in free throw percentage, steals, blocked shots and defensive rebounds.
“There is no doubt in my mind that our freshmen have really improved this season,” continued Hunter. “When you see your freshmen improve over the course of the season, it makes you know that the program is headed in the right direction. Just the other night, Markus Crider and David Travers came off the bench to give us 53 minutes combined. The experience that they are getting will really help us in the years to come.”
Crider played a career-high 31 minutes on Monday, finishing with eight points and four rebounds to go along with three assists and three steals against the Tribe. Travers played 22 minutes, scoring eight points on 4-of-8 shooting, while grabbing a pair of rebounds and dishing out two assists.
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 third in the CAA in minutes played (36.0) and tied for sixth in steals per game, averaging 1.7 per game.
White is second on the team in scoring, averaging 14.4 points per game, ninth in the CAA, while dishing out 3.9 assists, third most in the league. He has dished out 71 assists in his last 14 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 39 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 19.5 points per game in the remaining regular season contests.
Manny Atkins, from nearby Tucker, Ga., is averaging 14.1 points and 6.5 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 41.1 percent from beyond the arc and is eighth in the CAA making 1.8 three-pointers per game.
Lone senior James Vincent played in his 115th game on Monday to move into a tie for sixth 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 2.39 blocked shots per game, which also ranks 28th in the NCAA this year.
Junior Rashaad Richardson rounds out the Panthers starting five averaging 7.2 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. Richardson finished with 10 points and two steals at William & Mary.
James Madison is led by Rayshawn Goins, averaging 13.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game this season. He is one of four Dukes averaging in double figures to go along with Devon Moore, A.J. Davis and Andrey Semenov.
Following Saturday’s contest, Georgia State will prepare for its final regular season game of the season, hosting Northeastern for Senior Night on Wednesday. Tip-time is set for 7 p.m.