LAFAYETTE, La.-Georgia State and Louisiana, the two winningest programs in the Sun Belt Conference over the last six years, will square off in the Cajundome on Friday night at 9 p.m. in front of a national TV audience for the third time during the stretch.
Georgia State (16-7, 7-3 Sun Belt) and Louisiana (13-10, 4-6 Sun Belt) are both looking to rebound from tough losses on Wednesday night. Friday’s game will air live on ESPN2, marking the third time the two schools have played on ‘The Deuce’ since 2014.
Friday’s contest can be heard live on WAOK-AM 1380 and WRAS-FM 88.5 with Dave Cohen, now in his 36th year as the Voice of the Panthers, being joined by former Panther Lamont McIntosh calling the action. Live statistics and live audio will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com and on most mobile devices.
Georgia State enters Friday in first place in the league, a spot that has been very familiar for the Panthers over the years. The Panthers have finished in the top two in the conference standings in four of the last five seasons.
The Panthers have had equal success in the Bayou State during that time compiling a 14-6 record, including a 1-1 mark this season after a win at Tulane in November.
Five members of Georgia State’s line-up are averaging in double figures, while defensively the Panthers rank among the top 50 in the NCAA in total steals and top 20 in total blocked shots. Georgia State has made 225 3-pointers (top 30 in the NCAA) after setting a school and conference record with 323 last year.
“One of the best things about this team and what we have built with our program is our ability to bounce back,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “Obviously we were not happy with the loss on Wednesday, but our guys are already excited to get back out on the court. We never like to lose, but when we do, we generally bounce back pretty quickly.”
Since returning from injury, senior Devin Mitchell has shown why he is one of the best shooters in the country. After missing the first seven games, Mitchell has returned to average 13.6 points per game while shooting 47.2 percent from 3-point range. He has made 58 3-pointers in 16 games this season after knocking down 98 treys last year.
Junior D’Marcus Simonds, the Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year, is seventh in the league averaging 19.0 points per game. He stands in second-place on Georgia State’s all-time scoring list with 1,568 points after scoring 18 against ULM. He is just 252 points shy of R.J. Hunter from becoming the all-time career points leader in program history. His career scoring averaging of 18.0 points per game ranks No. 18 among all active NCAA players.
Senior Malik Benlevi, who has knocked down a 50 3-pointers, is averaging 11.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Senior Jeff Thomas is adding 11.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest and has knocked down 48 3-pointers this season.
Senior Jordan Tyson has rounded out the starting line-up the last three games. Against Georgia Southern, he pulled down a career-high eight rebounds in 21 minutes of action.
Sophomore Kane Williams, who has come off the bench last three games, is averaging 10.6 points and 3.5 assists per game.
- Georgia State’s 16-7 start to the season is tied for the fourth-best 23-game start in program history.
- Since the start of the 2013-14 season, the Panthers have won more games (126) than any other NCAA Division I team in the state of Georgia.
- Jeff Thomas (192/4th), Devin Mitchell (190/5th) and Malik Benlevi (158/10th) all rank among Georgia State career top 10 in 3-point field goals made.
Following Friday’s game, Georgia State will return home to face Troy next Wednesday at 7 p.m.