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Courtesy: Randy Wilson Photography
Sophomore R.J. Hunter is among the Sun Belt leaders in 3-pointers.

Panthers Return to Road to Face UTSA Sunday

Courtesy: Mike Holmes/Sports Communications
Release: December 21, 2013
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­ATLANTA-Georgia State will look for its third-straight win and fourth in its last five games traveling to San Antonio, Texas, to face UTSA on Sunday in the Convocation Center at 2 p.m. ET. The Panthers are coming off back-to-back home wins and have just two non-conference road games remaining before Sun Belt Conference play opens in January.

Sunday’s contest can be heard live on 1340 the Fan 3 and WRAS-FM 88.5, with Dave Cohen, now in his 31st year as the Voice of the Panthers, being joined by 680 the Fan’s Brandon Leak. Live statistics will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com.

Georgia State (5-6) earned an impressive victory against in-state foe Georgia Southern on Friday night, 73-61. It marked the final time the two schools will play as non-conference rivals with the Eagles joining the Sun Belt next year. The Panthers won for the fifth time in seven games against the Eagles.

Senior Manny Atkins recorded his first double-double of the season against Georgia Southern, finishing with 23 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 8-of-13 from the floor.

Atkins is averaging 11.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. One of the top 3-point shooters in the Sun Belt, Atkins is making 46.5-percent from 3-point range and knocking down 1.9 3s per game, both among the top-10 in the conference.

Redshirt-junior Ryan Harrow added 22 points also on 8-of-13 shooting, knocking down three 3-pointers. Harrow has scored 20 or more points in eight of the Panthers 11 games this season. He is averaging a team-best 20.0 points per game, the third best mark in the Sun Belt, dishing out 3.6 assists per game, second  on the team and fifth in the league. The transfer is shooting 47.6-percent from the floor and 79.7-percent from the free throw line.

“From an offensive stand-point, Manny and Ryan Harrow really played well for us on Friday night,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “I was also really impressed by the play of Devonta White. To dish out 10 assists and turn the ball over only once is impressive stat at any level.

“I thought Ryann Green and Markus Crider really provided us the spark on defense that we needed against Georgia Southern. We need to keep playing with that toughness on the defensive end if we want to be a championship team.”

R.J. Hunter is second on the team averaging 15.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. The sophomore has hit a team-best 26 3-pointers and is shooting 86.7-percent from the free throw line, second in the conference.

As Hunter alluded to, senior Devonta White dished out a career-high 10 assists against Georgia Southern. White has 43 assists to just 16 turnovers this season, as the Panthers are among the top-10 teams in the nation in fewest turnovers.

White is averaging 9.6 points per game, 23rd in the Sun Belt and 3.9 assists per contest, the fifth-best conference mark. He is shooting 82.1-percent from the line, one of six Panthers making at least 75.0-percent of their free throws.

The Panthers are averaging 75.9 points per game, third in the Sun Belt and are also among the top-five in scoring margin, free throw percentage, field goal percentage and 3-pointers made.

Offensively, GSU is shooting 46.4-percent from the floor and 34.9-percent from 3-point range, making 73.3-percent from the free throw line, second in the league. The Panthers are tops in the conference in blocked shots (5.4), turnover margin (+4.5) and assist/turnover ratio (1.3).

Redshirt-junior Curtis Washington rounds out the starting line-up and continues to show that he is one of the best big-men in the conference, averaging 8.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots per game. He leads the league and is among the top-10 in the nation in blocked shots.

UTSA (3-7) is led by Keon Lewis who is averaging 15.3 points and 3.0 assists per game. The Roadrunners have won two of their last three games after opening the season 1-6. UTSA is averaging 70.1 points per game, but giving up more than 76.

Following Sunday’s game, Georgia State will return to the road on Dec. 29, travelling to Greenville, N.C. to face East Carolina in the Panthers final non-conference game of the season.

Quick Notes:

• Former confererce foes Georgia State and UTSA will meet for the 14th time with the Roadrunners currently holding a 7-6 advantage. The Panthers have won three of the last four in the series, including a SEARS Bracketbuster game, 82-71, on Feb. 18, 2012. This marks the return game of that game played in the GSU Sports Arena.

• This marks the fourth game that Georgia State will play against a Conference USA opponent this year. Georgia State fell to FIU 61-60 in Miami and in overtime at Southern Miss, 75-65. The Panthers rebounded with a 79-73 win over Old Dominion last weekend. The Panthers will travel to East Carolina for their final non-conference game of the season next weekend.

• Georgia State improved to 4-0 on Friday night with an impressive 73-61 victory over in-state foe Georgia Southern.  GSU played just two of its first nine games in the comfy confines of the Sports Arena. Under head coach Ron Hunter, the Panthers are 26-10 in the comfy confines in his two-plus seasons.

• Redshirt-junior Ryan Harrow entered the week ranked 42nd in the NCAA in scoring, averaging 20.0 points per game. He has scored 20 or more points in eight of the Panthers 11 games and surpassed the 30-point total twice, including last Saturday against Old Dominion, finishing with 33 on 9-of-14 shooting and 14-of-15 free throws.

• Harrow’s 20.0-point average would put him in elite company in program history. Only six times in program history has a Panther averaged 20 or more points a game for the season. The last time it happened was when Thomas Terrell averaged 20.5 point per game during the 2001-02 season. The record is held by Ron Ricketts who averaged 21.1 points per game during the 1970-71 season.

• The 34 points scored by Ryan Harrow against Elon earlier this year were the most since R.J. Hunter scored 38 points against Old Dominion on Feb. 2, 2012. Harrow scored the most points in the country that day, Nov. 26, and it is the second most points in the Sun Belt this year.

• Thru 11 games, the Panthers have had a player score 20 or more points 11 times. Redshirt-junior Ryan Harrow has accomplished the feat eight times, sophomore R.J. Hunter has accomplished the feat twice and Manny Atkins did it for the first time against Georgia Southern.

• After playing in the NIT Season Tip-off, which was the third straight year the Panthers have played in a tournament, it was announced earlier in November that the Panthers will play in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic next year.

• GSU won 15 games last year, giving head coach Ron Hunter’s 37 victories in his first two seasons, the most by a Panther coach in two years in program history. He surpassed the total of Hall of Fame coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell who won 33 games in his first two seasons. Driesell won 50 games in his first three seasons and with five wins so far this season, Hunter is at 42 in his two-plus years.

• This will mark the Panthers first season in its return to the Sun Belt Conference. GSU was a founding member of the league in 1976 before leaving in 1981.

• Expectations are high entering the season as ESPN, NBC Sports, USA Today and CBS Sports have all projected the Panthers to win the Sun Belt Conference this year. The Sun Belt coaches have the Panthers finishing tied for fourth.

R.J. Hunter, a Kyle Macy Freshman All-America honoree last season, opened the year with 27 points against Southern Poly. In 42 career games, Hunter has scored 20 points or more 14 times, including the first two games this year.

• Senior Devonta White scored his 1,000th career point in his last game last season and with 106 points scored this year, has 1,106 for his career to move into 12th on the Panthers’ all-time scoring list. He needs 409 points in the Panthers remaining games to set the school record. More remarkable is the fact he missed 10 games as a freshman with an ankle injury.

• Georgia State will have one of the most balanced rosters in the country this year. The squad features four seniors, four juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen.

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