What You Need to Know:
* Georgia State will host Georgia Southern in a sold-out GSU Sports Arena on Saturday at 2:15 p.m.
* Both teams are looking to clinch first round byes in the upcoming Sun Belt Conference championship which begins next week in New Orleans.
* Before the game, Georgia State will honor Willie Clayton, Carter Cagle, Isaiah Dennis and Jeremy Hollowell as a part of senior day festivities before the game.
ATLANTA-With major seeding implications in the upcoming Sun Belt Championship on the line, Georgia State will host in-state rival Georgia Southern in a sold-out Sports Arena on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. Prior to the game, Georgia State will honor four seniors for their accomplishments on and off the court.
The rivals will meet for a third-straight year in a sold-out Sports Arena with both teams looking to clinch a bye in next week’s championship. The two teams will enter the day tied for second with the top four teams advancing automatically to the quarterfinals next Friday. It will also mark the second time in three years that Georgia State has hosted Georgia Southern in the regular season finale.
Georgia State (18-11, 11-6 Sun Belt) would clinch a bye with a win and could be as high as the No. 2 seed in the championship. The Panthers have won six-straight home games over Georgia Southern (18-12, 11-5 Sun Belt) which has lost five of its last six road games.
Saturday’s contest can be heard live on 1340 The Fan 3 and 1230 The Fan 2 with Dave Cohen, now in his 34th 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 second-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.
“Senior day is always a special day,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “Our guys are excited to play one more time in front out what is going to be an awesome crowd. However, more importantly, Saturday is basically a conference tournament game for us. We know how important a bye in next week’s tournament is and the only way we can be sure to get one is to win.”
Hollowell, an All-Sun Belt Preseason Second Team member, has been the Panthers leader all year averaging 15.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. He scored the 1,000th point of his career at Troy earlier this year and now has 890 points in a Georgia State uniform, just outside of the school’s all-time top 25.
He is one of six Panthers scoring 6.0 or more points per game, as 10 members of the team average at least 11 minutes per game. Hollowell has scored 20 or more points in a game eight times this year.
Clayton also joined the 1,000 career point club a few weeks ago. He is currently one of just nine active NCAA players to record at least 1,000 career points and 850 career rebounds. Clayton is averaging 6.2 points and 7.1 rebounds this season.
Freshman D’Marcus Simonds, who missed the first three games of Sun Belt play due to an injury has been rolling since his return. He is currently averaging 12.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 56.0 percent from the floor which is ranked among the top 10 in school history. He has upped his scoring average to 15.6 points per game in conference play.
Sophomore Malik Benlevi just missed a double-double last Saturday and has easily been Georgia State’s most improved player since last year. In Sun Belt games, Benlevi is averaging 9.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 52.4 percent from the floor.
Dennis will finish his career as one of the top 10 shooters in program history, as he is currently shooting 57.9 percent from the floor in his four seasons.
- Georgia State is first in the Sun Belt and No. 42 in the NCAA averaging 7.6 steals per game.
- Despite several players in their first year at Georgia State, the Panthers starting line-up doesn’t lack experience. Both Jeremy Hollowell (121) and Willie Clayton (125) played in their 100th career games during non-conference play.
- Georgia State is No. 42 in the NCAA with 47.4 field goal percentage and No. 41 with a 40.9 field goal percentage defense.
- Senior Willie Clayton has 887 career rebounds, ranked No. 12 in the NCAA among all active players.
Following Saturday’s game, Georgia State open the Sun Belt Conference tournament in New Orleans next week on either Wednesday or Friday at Lakepoint Arena.
• Georgia State and Georgia Southern will meet for the 53rd time on Saturday. The Panthers have won six-straight in the series at home.
• Since rejoining the Sun Belt, GSU is 52-23 in conference regular season games, the most wins of any school in the league.
• Georgia State is tied with the Eagles and Arkansas State for second-place in the Sun Belt Conference entering play.
• With the tight Sun Belt standings, GSU could finish anywhere from second place to fifth place with today’s result.
• In late January/early February, GSU won eight-straight games which is tied for the third-longest streak in program history.
• Devin Mitchell scored a career-high 16 points in GSU’s 71-54 win over Little Rock last Saturday.
• Senior Willie Clayton is one of just nine active players in the NCAA with 1,000+ points and 850+ rebounds.
• Isaiah Dennis has been a part of 84 wins at GSU, second-most in program history.
• Jeremy Hollowell scored his 1,000th career point at Troy on Jan. 28. He has scored 890 points at GSU.
• Georgia State finished non-conference play with 7 wins, tied for third most in program history.
• Georgia State made 15 3-pointers against Coastal Carolina on Jan. 21, tied for the sixth-most in a single game in program history.
• The Panthers 101-86 win at Louisiana marked the first time the Ragin’ Cajuns have given up 100 points at home since 1990.
• The win over Middle Tennessee in mid-December marked the second time in three seasons defeating an NCAA RPI Top 10 team.
• Ron Hunter enters play with 121 wins at GSU, the most in program history.
• Hunter is one of seven coaches to be the all-time winningest coach at multiple NCAA D1 schools.
• Senior Jeremy Hollowell has scored 20 or more points in a game eight times this year and is averaging a team-high 15.4 points per game.
• D’Marcus Simonds is averaging 15.6 points per game in SBC play, tops among freshmen.
• Willie Clayton has two double-doubles this year and has 19 for his career.
• Freshman D’Marcus Simonds was named MVP of the Cancun Challenge in November.
• Georgia State is 81-38 (.681) since Dec. 14, 2013.