What You Need to Know:
* Georgia State will look for a fourth-straight win facing Coastal Carolina on Saturday at the HTC Center.
* Sophomore D'Marcus Simonds has scored in double-figures in 35-straight games dating back to last season.
* The Panthers enter play at 12-6, tied for the third-best start in program history.


MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.-Looking to win for the fourth-straight time and sweep a pair of games in the Carolinas, Georgia State will face Coastal Carolina in the HTC Center on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m.

Georgia State (12-6, 3-2 Sun Belt) earned a 71-58 win over Appalachian State on Thursday night as junior Jeff Thomas just missed a double-double with a career-high 22 points and eight rebounds.

Sophomore D’Marcus Simonds earned Sun Belt Player of the Week honors on Monday and has scored in double-figures in 35-straight games entering Saturday.

At 12-6, the Panthers are off to the third-best start to a season in program history after tying the school record for the most non-conference wins in school history.

Coastal Carolina (7-11, 1-4 Sun Belt) enters play having lost four straight but owns a 3-1 advantage in the series with the Panthers.

Saturday’s contest can be heard live on 1340 The Fan 3/103.7 FM and now WXJO-AM 1120/104.5 FM with Dave Cohen, now in his 35th year as the Voice of the Panthers, calling the action. The game will also air live on the WatchESPN platform with Matt Stewart and Bob Donewald calling the action. Live statistics and live audio will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com and on most mobile devices. 

This marks the second-straight year Georgia State has started conference play 3-2. Last year it resulted in a second-place finish and 12 Sun Belt wins.

“That was a great win for us on Thursday night,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “However, we quickly have to turn our attention to a very good Coastal Carolina team. They are going to come in hungry to get a home win and we need to make sure we continue to play the type of defense we are capable of playing.”

Georgia State enters play ranked first in the league in turnover margin (+4.9) and steals (8.4), along with second in blocked shots (4.5) and field goal percentage defense (40.0). The steals per game total ranks in the top 25 in the NCAA, while the turnover margin is top 15.

However, the Panthers’ offense is equally good. Georgia State is second in 3-point field goal percentage (37.4) and fourth in 3-point field goals made per game (8.7).

Among Georgia State’s most potent offensive options is Simonds who enters Saturday averaging 21.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. His points per game total would set a school record if the season ended today.

Simonds is one of three Panthers scoring in double figures. Junior Devin Mitchell is second on the team averaging 11.7 points per game. He has made a team-high 47 3-pointers and is shooting 43.1 percent from beyond the arc.

Thomas rounds out the group averaging 10.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He is shooting 45.7 percent from the floor and 75.0 percent from the free throw line.

Junior Malik Benlevi and senior Jordan Session round out the starters. Benlevi is averaging 9.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, while Session adds 6.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest.

Notes:

  • Simonds 21.2 points per game scoring average is among the top 25 in the NCAA and his total points scored (382) ranks among the top 15. He has made 138 total field goals which ranks among the top 10 in the country.
  • Simonds ranks in the top four in the Sun Belt in scoring, assists, steals and minutes played.
  • Seniors Jordan Session and Isaiah Williams have both reached the 100 career games played mark this season. Last year three Panthers accomplished the mark.
  • Isaiah Williams enters play needing just 15 points for 1,000 in his career.
  • Jeff Thomas has scored in double figures in seven-straight games.

Following the game on Saturday, Georgia State will return home to face Georgia Southern on Jan. 20. The game will serve as the annual ‘Barefoot for Bare Feet’ game in which Coach Hunter coaches barefoot to raise awareness for Samaritan’s Feet. Tip is set for 2:15 p.m.

Quick Notes:

• Georgia State and Coastal Carolina will meet for just the fifth time on Saturday.

• The two teams split the season series last year with each team winning on its home court.

• GSU is coming off a 71-58 win over Appalachian State on Thursday to win for the third-straight time.

• Junior Jeff Thomas just missed a double-double with a career-high 22 points and 8 rebounds against the Mountaineers.

• Sophomore D’Marcus Simonds was named Sun Belt Player of the Week on Monday.

• Georgia State’s 12-6 start is tied for the third-best 18-game start in program history.

• Georgia State won nine non-conference games this year, tied for the most in program history.

• The Panthers have won 56 Sun Belt games since returning to the league in 2013. No other program in the league has more than 50 wins during that time.

• Simonds has a pair of double-doubles already this season and has scored in double figures in 35-straight games dating back to last season.

• Simonds is averaging 21.2 points per game which would set a school record if the season ended today. He is currently ranked among the top 30 in the NCAA in scoring.

• Georgia State enters play ranked among the top 15 in the NCAA with a turnover margin of 4.9 and in total steals with 152.

Ron Hunter, GSU’s all-time leader in wins, won his 400th career game on 11/22 against EWU.

• Hunter has led the Panthers to four of the seven most successful seasons in program history, including a pair of 25-win seasons.

Isaiah Williams played in his 100th career game earlier this year. He is 15 pts. shy of 1,000 for his career.

• Williams, along with Jordan Session have both surpassed 100 career games played this season. 

• Georgia State was picked to finish second in the annual Sun Belt Coaches’ Preseason Poll.

• The Panthers have won 20 or more games in three of the last four seasons, advancing to postseason play in each of those years. 

• Since the start of the 2013-14 season, the Panthers have won 97 games, the most of any NCAA Division 1 program in the state of Georgia.

• Following today’s game, Georgia State will return home for the next three games beginning with in-state rival Georgia Southern next Saturday at 2:15 p.m.