What You Need to Know:
* Georgia State will face UT Arlington on Saturday at the College Park Center in the final road game of the regular season.
* Sophomore D'Marcus Simonds enters play just 10 points shy of 1,000 for his career.
* Georgia State's 20-8 start to the season is the third-best 28-game start in program history.
ARLINGTON, Texas-Coming off an impressive 27-point win, Georgia State will close out the road portion of the regular season schedule facing UT Arlington at the College Park Center on Saturday at 5:15 p.m. ET.
Georgia State (20-8, 11-4 Sun Belt) has now won 20 or more games in four of the last five seasons and five times in seven years since head coach Ron Hunter’s arrival at Georgia State. With a GSU victory or loss on Saturday by Georgia Southern or UL Monroe, the Panthers would clinch no worse than the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Sun Belt Conference tournament.
The Panthers earned an 81-75 over UT Arlington (17-12, 8-8 Sun Belt) earlier this year. The Mavericks have won four of six including an 83-63 win over Georgia Southern on Thursday night.
At 20-8, the Panthers are off to the third-best start to a season in program history. Despite three games remaining in the regular season, Georgia State already has tied for the fifth-most wins in school history.
Saturday’s contest can be heard live on 1340 The Fan 3/103.7 FM and now WXJO-AM 1120/104.5 FM with Dave Cohen, now in his 35th year as the Voice of the Panthers calling the action. The game will also air on the WatchESPN/ESPN3 platform. Live statistics and live audio will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com and on most mobile devices.
“We had an absolutely great defensive effort on Thursday night,” Hunter said. “That is the type of defense we need to play if we want to win a championship. We need to keep that effort up and knock down some open shots on Saturday to beat a UT Arlington team that plays very well at home.”
Georgia State enters play ranked first in the league in field goal percentage defense (39.6), turnover margin (+3.5) and blocked shots (4.6), along with second in scoring defense (66.5) and steals (7.4). The Panthers’ scoring defense is ranked No. 45 in the NCAA, while the field goal percentage defense is No. 11.
However, the Panthers’ offense is equally good. Georgia State is second in field goal percentage (46.1), 3-point field goal percentage (37.9), and 3-point field goals made per game (9.0).
Among Georgia State’s most potent offensive options is sophomore D’Marcus Simonds who enters Saturday averaging 21.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. He has scored in double-figures in 45-straight games and is ranked No. 19 in the country in scoring. He is on pace to score the most points in a single-season in school history after establishing a new school record with his 223rd made
Simonds is one of four Panthers scoring in double figures. Junior Devin Mitchell is second on the team averaging 11.8 points per game, having knocked down 73 3-pointers, tied with R.J. Hunter for the 10th-most in a single-season in school history.
Junior Jeff Thomas is averaging 10.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He has made 135 3-pointers in his career, ninth-most in program history.
Junior Malik Benlevi and senior Jordan Session round out the starters. Benlevi is averaging 10.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, while Session adds 7.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest. Benlevi, along with Simonds have each recorded five double-doubles this season, while Session has garnered three.
- D’Marcus Simonds has made 227 total field goals this year which ranks No. 6 in the country.
- Georgia State has made 254 3-pointers this year which is ranked third-most in program history, while the Panthers’ 3-point field goal percentage (38.1) is the best mark in school history.
- Senior Jordan Session has played in 121 career games, fifth-most in program history. He has also been a part of 81 wins, tied for the fourth-best four-year stretch in program history.
- Georgia State has posted a winning record in five consecutive seasons, tied for the longest stretch in program history.
Following the game on Saturday, Georgia State will return home for the final two games of the regular season beginning with Troy on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. in the GSU Sports Arena.
• Georgia State and UT Arlington will meet for the 12th time and second time this year. The Panthers earned an 81-75 win over the Mavericks in the GSU Sports Arena on Jan. 25.
• The Panthers snapped a two-game losing streak with an impressive 77-50 win over Texas State on Thursday.
• With three games to play, GSU is three games back of Louisiana for first-place in the Sun Belt. GSU has a three-game lead over Georgia Southern and ULM for second-place and has secured a bye in the tournament.
• Against Texas State, the Panthers held the Bobcats to just 27.1 percent shooting and 5 two-point field goals.
• D’Marcus Simonds recorded his 223rd field goal of the year on Thursday to set a new school record.
• Simonds enters Saturday just 10 points shy of 1,000 for his career and will be playing in just his 58th game. He could become just the sixth player at GSU to score 1,000 career points in less than two seasons.
• D’Marcus Simonds has scored in double figures in 45-straight games dating back to last season and has four 30-plus performances this year.
• Malik Benlevi and D’Marcus Simonds are tied for the team lead with five double-doubles each this year.
• With three games to play in the regular season, D’Marcus Simonds has 602 points scored, just 86 shy of R.J. Hunter’s school record of 688.
• Simonds is averaging 21.5 points per game which is currently the best single-season scoring average in school history. He is currently ranked No. 19 in the NCAA in scoring.
• Georgia State’s 20-8 start is the third-best 28-game start in program history.
• Georgia State’s 20 wins are tied for the fifth-most in school history.
• The Panthers have won 64 Sun Belt games since returning to the league in 2013. No other program in the league has more than 60 wins (Louisiana) during that time.
• Georgia State enters play ranked No. 45 in scoring defense (66.5) in the NCAA, No. 11 in field goal defense (39.6) and No. 17 with a turnover margin of 3.5.
• Ron Hunter, GSU’s all-time leader in wins, won his 400th career game on 11/22 against EWU.
• With GSU’s 20 wins, Ron Hunter has led the Panthers to 5-of-the-8 most successful seasons in program history, including a pair of 25-win seasons. He has won 20 or more games five times in seven seasons at GSU.
• Jordan Session has now played in 121 games, fifth-most in school history. He has also been a part of 81 wins, tied for the fourth-most for any player in program history.• Georgia State’s field goal percentage defense (39.6) is currently the third-best mark in school history.
• The Panthers have won 20 or more games in four of the last five seasons, advancing to postseason play in each of the previous years.
• Since the start of the 2013-14 season, the Panthers have won 106 games, the most of any NCAA Division 1 program in the state of Georgia.