Orangeburg, S.C.-Georgia State extended its winning streak to four with an impressive 85-54 victory over South Carolina State on Tuesday night at the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center. Senior Eric Buckner, playing in front of a hometown crowd, scored 21 points to lead four Panthers in double figures.
The 31-point margin of victory was the largest on the road in the history of the program. It also marked the largest margin of victory at home or on the road since the 2003-04 season.
Georgia State (4-3) shot 51.5 percent for the game, including 62.5 percent from the floor in the first half, hitting 9-of-21 from three-point range to get the victory. The winning streak is the Panthers' longest since the end of the 2008-09 season, and the 31-point margin of victory is the largest for GSU since an 80-59 win over Savannah State in 2005-06.
Sophomore Devonta White, who opened the game with three three-pointers in the first five minutes, finished with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-5 from outside the arc, dishing out six assists.
"Tonight was the first time this year that I felt as though we really played a well-rounded game," commented GSU head coach Ron Hunter after the victory. "I thought we came out a little slow, but then our bench got things going. They played with energy and were able to give us some three-pointers, which were really important."
The Panthers bench outscored the Bulldogs 36-9, while using their size advantage to out-muscle South Carolina State under the basket, gaining a 46-20 point advantage on the inside.
Buckner, from nearby Ehrhardt, S.C. was key to the inside presence. The 6-10 forward shot 9-of-11 from the floor, collecting eight rebounds and blocking two blocked shots, coming off a career-high seven on Saturday.
"Eric is really starting to step-up his game," commented Hunter. "If we can get that solid performance inside and start to hit some threes, we are going to become a hard basketball team to beat."
The senior increased his career block total to 72, moving into a tie for sixth with Trello Galloway on the school's all-time list. He just moved into the top 10 on Saturday.
Georgia State, which had held its previous three opponents to 50 points or less for the first time in school history, is allowing an average of just 50.3 points per game during the winning streak.
"I was equally impressed with the way we played on defense tonight," continued Hunter. "We held them to 33 percent from the floor. They are a very athletic team. We were just able to play smart basketball tonight to get a great win."
Sophomore Rashaad Richardson came off the bench to add 12 points in 17 minutes, knocking down a trio of three-pointers.
Redshirt-senior Jihad Ali, who came off the bench for the third straight game, added 10 points and six rebounds, hitting 2-of-2 from three-point range. He is averaging just over 15 points per game since coming off the bench last week.
Senior James Fields, playing in his third game back from injury, added eight points, four rebounds and two assists, shooting 4-of-7 from the floor.
The Panthers came out red-hot in the first half, quickly building a 27-12 lead with 11:44 to play.
As Buckner continued to go to the glass, finishing with 12 first half points, including a stretch of five straight, the Panthers continued to build their lead, going into halftime ahead 51-27.
South Carolina State (4-3) was led by Brandon Riley who scored 22 points and pulled down five rebounds. Riley hit 9-of-18 from the floor and 4-of-8 from three point range.
Khalif Toombs added 12 points and six assists for the Bulldogs in 39 minutes, as the Panthers gave the Bulldogs their first defeat of the season at home.
The Panthers will return home to face FIU on Thursday at 7 p.m. The game can be heard live on WRAS-FM 88.5 beginning at 6:30 p.m. with the Panther Pregame Show.
The first pre-game event for PAC donors is also set for Thursday, starting an hour before the Panthers. Donors can meet, network and enjoy food and beverages in the PAC Lounge on the third floor of the GSU Sports Arena.
Both season and individual game tickets for the 2011-12 season are now on sale. A variety of packages can be found by visiting GeorgiaStateSports.com or by calling 1-866-GA-STATE.