ATLANTA--Georgia State will close the books on the 2012-13 regular season on Wednesday night, hosting first place Northeastern in the Sports Arena at 7 p.m. It will also mark the final home game for lone senior James Vincent as the Panthers look to wrap up a second-straight winning season.
Vincent, who enters Wednesday night having played in 116 career games, sixth most in school history, is among the top shot blockers in school history. His 70 blocked shots this season are the third most in a single season in school history and his 132 blocked shots in his career are second most.
Nicknamed “The Big Fella,” Vincent scored a season-high 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds to go along with three blocked shots at James Madison on Saturday, helping the Panthers spoil senior day for the Dukes.
“James is closing out his career on a high-note,” commented head coach Ron Hunter. “In my two years, he has given me everything that he has. He worked hard to become one of the best shot blockers in the CAA and hopefully he can finish his career by earning CAA All-Defensive Team honors.”
Georgia State (15-15, 10-7 CAA) is looking to finish strong as well, having won three of four with two of those coming on the road. A Panther win on Wednesday would secure GSU’s best finish ever in its seven years in the CAA and tie for the most ever conference wins, 11, matching last year’s total. The 16 regular season wins would also tie for the seventh most in school-history.
“There has been no quit in this team,” continued Hunter. “Despite not having a chance to play in the conference tournament, our guys have continued to work hard and to get better. It would mean a lot to come out and get a victory to finish the regular season above .500.”
Northeastern (18-10, 13-3 CAA) also earned a win over James Madison its last time out, having not played since last Wednesday. The Huskies have already secured the No. 1 seed in the CAA Tournament and a bye in to the semifinals. Georgia State handed the Huskies their first CAA loss of the year, a 78-73 decision in Boston on Jan. 30.
Wednesday’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 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 Wednesday 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.
Freshman R.J. Hunter, who has already locked up CAA Rookie of the Year honors, 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 Texas State’s Joel Wright. He is currently fourth in the nation among all freshmen scorers and 75th overall.
R.J. Hunter, the only son of head coach Ron Hunter, is averaging a team-high 17.1 points per game and 18.4 points in CAA-only games, both of which are third in the conference. He is also collecting 5.1 rebounds per game, 20th in the CAA, and making 2.4 three-pointers per game, third in the league. Hunter is shooting 36.8 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. Entering the final regular season game, he needs just one point to break Matt O’Brien’s 1989-90 freshman mark of 515 points. By breaking that mark, he would also move into the top 10 for points scored in a single season.
Hunter, along with Manny Atkins are among the top four in the conference in three-point shooting, as the Panthers are second in the league making 7.0 three-pointers per game. The team is shooting 35.9 percent from three-point range, third best in the CAA.
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 third in the CAA in minutes played (36.1) and sixth in steals per game, averaging 1.6 per game.
White is second on the team in scoring, averaging 14.5 points per game, 10th in the CAA, while dishing out 3.9 assists, fourth most in the league. He has dished out 76 assists in his last 15 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 24 points away from becoming the 17th Panther with 1,000 career points. He is currently 18th on the all-time scoring list with 976 points, just one behind Lanard Copeland for 17th.
Manny Atkins, from nearby Tucker, Ga., is averaging 13.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game this season, both among the top 15 in the CAA. He is third in the CAA in three-point field goal percentage, hitting 40.8 percent from beyond the arc and is eighth in the CAA making 1.7 three-pointers per game.
Junior Rashaad Richardson rounds out the Panthers starting five averaging 7.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. He is 15th in the CAA making 1.3 three-pointers per game and shooting a team-high 43.8 percent from beyond the arc in conference games.
Freshman Markus Crider scored a career-high eight points for the second game in a row against James Madison on Saturday. Over the last three games, he is averaging 7.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, while shooting 60.0 percent from the field.
Northeastern is led by the talented foursome of Joel Smith, Jonathan Lee, Quincy Ford and Reggie Spencer, each averaging in double figures this season. Smith is averaging a team-high 16.0 points per game, while Spencer pulls down a team-high 6.3 rebounds per contest. The group accounts for more than 75 percent of the Huskies’ points.
With a win on Wednesday night, the Panthers will become eligible to compete in the CBI or CIT postseason tournaments. An invitation to either of those tournaments will not be known until Selection Sunday.