ATLANTA-Facing a 25-win team from a year ago, Georgia State will open the 2018-19 regular season hosting East Tennessee State on Tuesday night in the GSU Sports Arena at 7 p.m.
Georgia State and ETSU were among the top mid-major programs in the country last season as the Panthers earned 24 wins and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, while the Bucs finished with 25 wins before falling in the Southern Conference Championship.
Tuesday’s contest can be heard live on WSTR-HD2 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. 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.
Georgia State topped Georgia College 78-58 last Thursday in its lone exhibition game of the year. Senior Malik Benlevi led all scorers with 26 points, while senior Jeff Thomas added 25 points going 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Benlevi and Thomas could finish the year as the No. 1 and 2 players in program history in games played.
Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year D’Marcus Simonds will make his debut on Tuesday night after sitting out the exhibition game. Simonds broke a handful of records last year and earned 2017-18 AP All-America Honorable Mention recognition.
Senior Devin Mitchell, who earned All-Sun Belt Preseason Second Team honors knocked down 98 3-pointers last year, just two shy of R.J. Hunter’s school record of 100. He is expected to be back as well.
Georgia State’s returners have scored 3,558 career points. That total is the 13th-most of any program in the country to start the season.
“It was good for our guys to finally be able to play against someone else last week,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “However, things count now and we need to be prepared every time we step on the court. ETSU lost a lot of players off last year’s team but brought in a talented group and I’m sure they will be ready for opening night.”
Georgia State has gone 147-85 in Hunter’s seven seasons, the most wins during any seven-year stretch in program history. He was inducted into the Miami University Cradle of Coaches last month.
Georgia State will play one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country in 2018-19. The Panthers will face four teams that played in the 2018 NCAA Tournament and potentially two more based on match-ups in the Cayman Islands Classic in November.
- The Panthers are 7-0 in regular season home openers under head coach Ron Hunter and have won 10-straight openers in the GSU Sports Arena.
- The Panthers have won five straight season openers with the last loss coming at Duke to open the 2012-13 season.
- Georgia State is currently ranked No. 12 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll, while ETSU is receiving votes.
- ETSU leads the all-time series with the Panthers 3-1, with the last match-up coming in 1985.
- 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 four times in five years.
- Since the start of the 2013-14 season, the Panthers have won 110 games, the most of any NCAA Division 1 program in the state of Georgia.
Georgia State was selected the unanimous favorite in the Sun Belt Conference in the annual Preseason Coaches’ Poll that came out.
East Tennessee State went 25-9 last season before falling in the Southern Conference Championship Game. The Bucs advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2016-17. They return just three players who saw action last season.
Season tickets are still available for the 2018-19 season. GSU will play 14 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/Tix.
• Georgia State made its second NCAA Tournament in the last four years in 2018 and returns four of five starters from the 2017-18 squad.
• Georgia State is 7-0 in regular season home openers under Ron Hunter and has won 10-straight openers in the GSU Sports Arena.
• The Panthers have won five straight season openers with the last loss coming at Duke to open the 2012-13 season.
• Georgia State is ranked No. 12 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll.
• Since returning to the Sun Belt in 2013-14, Georgia State has finished in the top two of the final regular season conference standings four times.
• This marks the first time GSU and ETSU have met since 1985. Both were among the top mid-major programs in the country last year as GSU won 24 games and ETSU won 25.
• Since the start of the 2013-14 season, Georgia State has won more games (110) than any other NCAA Division I team in Georgia. No other program has even 100 wins.
• Junior D’Marcus Simonds was named the Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year after earning AP All-America Honorable Mention recognition last season.
• Senior Devin Mitchell knocked down 98 3-pointers last season, second-most in school history and just two shy of current Atlanta Hawks G-League star R.J. Hunter’s record.
• Jeff Thomas has made 144 3-pointers in his career, ranked No. 8 on GSU’s all-time list for treys.
• Georgia State’s line-up has scored 3,558 career points entering the season. That total is the 13th-most of any program in the country.
• GSU is one of just 11 programs in the country to feature two assistant coaches who have NCAA D1 head coach experience (McCallum - Ball State/Houston/Detroit and Williams - Tennessee State).
• Georgia State’s 3-point field goal percentage (38.5) last season was the best mark in school history, while the 323 3-pointers made broke the school record of 276 and set a new Sun Belt record.
• GSU was one of just 13 schools in the country to win a bowl game and advance to the NCAA Tournament last year. Only three schools (GSU, Marshall and New Mexico State) are non-Power 5 programs.
• Georgia State will play one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country in 2018-19. The Panthers will face four teams that played in the 2018 NCAA Tournament and potentially two more based on match-ups in the Cayman Islands Classic in November.