ATLANTA-One of the most anticipated seasons in program history will get underway Friday night as Georgia State hosts Carver Bible College in the GSU Sports Arena at 7 p.m.

Friday’s contest can be heard live on 1340 The Fan 3/103.7 FM and WRAS-FM 88.5 with Dave Cohen, now in his 35th year as the Voice of the Panthers, being joined by 680 The Fan’s Brandon Leak. The game will also air on the WatchESPN platform for a third-straight year with Sam Crenshaw and former Panther Rodney “Truck” Turner calling the action. Live statistics and live audio will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com and on most mobile devices.

Opening night will also mark the first of nine Panther Athletic Club Hospitality Events located on the fourth floor of the GSU Sports Arena. All Panther Athletic Club members are encouraged to attend.

Georgia State enters the season hungry for redemption. The Panthers have finished in the top-two in the Sun Belt standings in three of the last four years but were knocked out of the conference tournament semifinals last season by eventual champion Troy.

For the third time in four years, the Panthers won 20 or more games, going 20-13. Head coach Ron Hunter improved to 123-74 in his first six years of the program and enters the 2017-18 season just three wins shy of 400 for his career. He became Georgia State’s all-time wins leader early last year and is one of just seven NCAA Division I coaches to be the winningest coach at multiple schools.

Georgia State is 6-0 in regular season home openers under Hunter, winning by an average margin of 28.7 points per game.

“Our three exhibition games have given us a lot of confidence heading into the regular season,” Hunter said. “However, we also know that we still have a lot of work to do to become the championship team that we want to be. Friday is just the first step, but we look forward to the marathon journey that is ahead of us.”

Leading the Panthers will be sophomore D’Marcus Simonds. The 2017 Sun Belt Freshman of the Year has already earned significant honors this preseason:

  • Lute Olsen National Player of the Year Watch List
  • Lou Henson National Mid-Major Player of the Year Watch List
  • All-Sun Belt Preseason Second Team

Last season Simonds earned All-Sun Belt Third Team honors after averaging 13.4 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, shooting more than 50 percent from the floor. In three exhibition games this fall he scored 80 points, including a 30-point performance at Georgia Tech and a near triple-double performance against Coker College on Monday night.

Notes:

  • This will mark the second time Georgia State and Carver Bible College meet on the court. The Panthers earned a 77-53 win over the Cougars on Nov. 17, 2009.
  • Georgia State welcomes multiple freshmen who will see playing time this year, including Kane Williams, Josh Linder, Denis Alibegovic and Matt Chism.
  • Since returning to the Sun Belt Conference for the 2013-14 season, Georgia State has finished in the top two in the Sun Belt standings three times.
  • Since the start of the 2013-14 season, the Panthers have won 86 games, the most of any NCAA Division 1 program in the state of Georgia.

Georgia State was selected to finish second in the Sun Belt standings in the annual Preseason Coaches’ Poll that came out last week.

Less than 100 season tickets currently remain available for purchase in the lower level of the GSU Sports Arena. GSU will play 13 regular season home contests this winter at the GSU Sports Arena. Season tickets can be purchased by calling 404-413-4020 or by visiting GeorgiaStateSports.com.

Quick Notes:

• Georgia State opens the regular season hosting Carver Bible College for the second time in program history.

• Georgia State is 6-0 in regular season home openers under Ron Hunter and have won nine-straight openers in the GSU Sports Arena.

• The Panthers have won four-straight season openers with the last loss come at Duke to open the 2012-13 season.

• Georgia State won all three exhibition games in convincing fashion, including a 65-58 win over Georgia Tech.

• Sophomore D’Marcus Simonds has been named to multiple preseason watch lists, including Lute Olsen and Lou Henson.

• D’Marcus Simonds was named to the All-Sun Belt Preseason Second Team before the start of the season.

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

• Georgia State is ranked No. 25 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll.

• Georgia State returns three starters from a squad that won 20 games and advanced to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. 

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

• During the last four years, Georgia State has finished in the top two in the Sun Belt standings three times. 

• Since the start of the 2013-14 season, the Panthers have won 86 games, the most of any NCAA Division 1 program in the state of Georgia.

• Head coach Ron Hunter, Georgia State’s all-time leader in wins, will enter the 2017-18 season just three wins shy of 400 for his career. 

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

• The Panthers take to the road for the next four games beginning at Rice on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET.