ATLANTA-Looking to earn a non-conference record-tying ninth win, Georgia State will host Middle Georgia State on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. in the GSU Sports Arena.
Georgia State (8-4) has won nine conference games three times before in program history, including just last season en route to an NCAA Tournament appearance. All three previous times winning nine conference games led to a postseason appearance, including twice in the NCAA Tournament.
Middle Georgia State (7-3) will be making its second appearance in the GSU Sports Arena, but first during the regular season on Saturday.
Saturday’s contest can be heard live on WAOK-AM 1380 with Dave Cohen, now in his 36th year as the Voice of the Panthers, being joined by former Panther Lamont McIntosh calling the action. The game will also air live on ESPN+ with Sam Crenshaw and Rodney Turner calling the action. Live statistics and live audio will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com and on most mobile devices.
“It was good for our guys and coaching staff to have a few days off over the break,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “Saturday basically starts the second half of the season. We had a very good first half of the season and our team has battled some very good competition. This will be our final game before conference play hits and we want to be ready for when that occurs.”
Junior D’Marcus Simonds, the Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year, is third in the league averaging 20.3 points per game which also ranks No. 39 in the NCAA. He stands in sixth-place on Georgia State’s all-time scoring list with 1,374 points, just one point shy of Chavelo Holmes for fifth on the all-time scoring list. Simonds is also just one assist and one steal from moving into the top 10 for a career in both categories. He is currently on pace to break R.J. Hunter’s school record of 1,819 career points by the end of the season.
Seniors Malik Benlevi and Jeff Thomas are also averaging in double figures. Benlevi, who has knocked down a team-high 28 3-pointers, is averaging 11.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Thomas is adding 11.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest and currently stands fifth in program history with 168 3-pointers.
Senior Devin Mitchell and sophomore Kane Williams round out the starting line-up. Despite missing the first seven games of the season due to injury, Mitchell is averaging 10.2 points per game and has knocked down 14 3-pointers in his first five games back. Williams is averaging 11.1 points per game to go along with 40 assists and is shooting 51.7 percent from the floor.
Georgia State enters play averaging 8.8 steals per game, No. 1 in the Sun Belt and 22nd in the NCAA. Williams ranks third in the Sun Belt averaging 2.0 steals per game. The Panthers’ 4.8 blocks per game average is second in the league and No. 51 in the nation.
- Georgia State has won five-straight home games dating back to last season.
- With a win on Saturday, Georgia State would finish calendar year 2018 with a 25-9 record.
- Since the start of the 2013-14 season, the Panthers have won more games (118) than any other NCAA Division I team in the state of Georgia.
Following Saturday’s game, Georgia State will open conference play at UT Arlington on Jan. 3, at 8 p.m. ET. The game will air live on ESPN+ as the two teams that played for the league championship last March square off for the first time since the title game.