ATLANTA-With the calendar turning to February and March Madness right around the corner, Georgia State will host in-state rival Georgia Southern on Saturday at the GSU Sports Arena on the eve of the city hosting Super Bowl LIII. Tip is set for 1 p.m. as fans are encouraged to wear white for a ‘White-Out’ of the arena.

Georgia State (15-6, 6-2 Sun Belt) remains in a tie for first place in the Sun Belt Conference standings as Saturday marks the midpoint of league play. Georgia Southern (13-8, 5-3 Sun Belt) stands just one game back as the two teams prepare to square off twice in the next 10 games.

Saturday’s contest can be heard live on WAOK-AM 1380 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.

Fans are encouraged to take note of several events and closings going on around campus. Please reference this page regarding closed streets due to Super Bowl weekend. Fans are encouraged to allow plenty of travel time with heavy traffic expected.

Due to the Super Bowl being played at Mercedes Benz Stadium, all fans planning to park in G-Deck must show a valid game ticket or a parking pass for the game. Fans who do not have a pre-purchased game ticket/student ticket will be charged $10 to park in the G-Deck. G-Deck entrances are located at Courtland St., Collins Street, and Central Ave.

All five of Georgia State’s starters are averaging in double figures, while defensively the Panthers rank No. 37 in the NCAA in total steals and No. 12 in total blocked shots.

“We have had a really good week of practice,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “Our guys are focused and locked in as the calendar changes to February. This is the time of year that we want to start playing our best basketball and I think we are on the verge of that.”

Since returning from injury, senior Devin Mitchell has shown why he is one of the best shooters in the country. After missing the first seven games, Mitchell has returned to average 13.8 points per game while shooting 48.2 percent from 3-point range. He has made 52 3-pointers in 14 games this season.

Junior D’Marcus Simonds, the Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year, is seventh in the league averaging 18.6 points per game. He stands in second-place on Georgia State’s all-time scoring list with 1,520 points, 299 points shy of R.J. Hunter to becoming the all-time career points leader in program history. His career scoring averaging of 17.9 points per game ranks No. 19 among all active NCAA players.

Senior Malik Benlevi, who has knocked down a 46 3-pointers, is averaging 11.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Senior Jeff Thomas is adding 12.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest after finishing with a team-high 27 against UT Arlington last Saturday. He also became just the 21st Panther to reach 1,000 career points during the matchup with the Mavericks.

Sophomore Kane Williams rounds out the starting line-up and is averaging 10.1 points and 3.7 assists per game. He is fourth in the Sun Belt averaging 2.0 steals per game.

Georgia State has made 204 3-pointers this season (No. 24 in the NCAA), an average of 9.7 per game which ranks second in the Sun Belt after setting a school and conference record with 323 last season. The Panthers have made 13 or more 3-pointers in a game five times this season.

Notes:

  • Georgia State’s 15-6 start to the season is tied for the second-best 21-game start in program history.
  • Since the start of the 2013-14 season, the Panthers have won more games (125) than any other NCAA Division I team in the state of Georgia.
  • Jeff Thomas (190/4th), Devin Mitchell (184/5th) and Malik Benlevi (154/10th) all rank among Georgia State career top 10 in 3-point field goals made.
  • Devin Mitchell has made 44 3-pointers in the last 10 games. He is tied with R.J. Hunter for the best 10-game stretch of made 3-pointers in program history.

Following Saturday’s game, Georgia State opens a two-game road trip at UL Monroe on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET. The game will air live on ESPN+.

Quick Notes:

• Georgia State made its second NCAA Tournament in the last four years in 2018 and returns four of five starters. GSU has finished in the top two of the final regular season conference standings four times in the last five years.
• Head coach Ron Hunter is 20-6 against teams from the state of Georgia since taking over in 2011.
• Georgia State is currently tied for first place in the Sun Belt Conference standings with Texas State at 6-2.
• Following today’s game, Ron Hunter will jump on a flight to Indianapolis as he will be inducted into the IUPUI Hall of Fame on Saturday night.
• This will mark the first of two meetings with Georgia Southern in the final 10 games of the regular season. The Panthers have not lost to the Eagles in the GSU Sports Arena since 1992.
• The Panthers are 71-31 in Sun Belt Conference regular season games since rejoining the league in 2013-14.
• Georgia State is 14-0 when leading at the half this season, among the top 5 most wins at the half in the country without a loss.
• Georgia State’s 15-6 start is the tied for the second-best 21-game start in program history.
• Georgia State won nine non-conference games, tied for the most in program history.
• Georgia State faced five opponents who competed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament in the first 11 games of the season. (Montana, St. Bonaventure, Creighton, Alabama, and No. 24 Kansas State) all away from home going 2-3.
• GSU has beaten two Power 5 opponents in one season for the second time in program history (Georgia and Alabama). Those wins are the only two P5 wins for Sun Belt schools this season.
• GSU’s 21-point halftime comeback at Alabama is tied for the 12th-largest halftime comeback in NCAA history.
• Over the last 12 months, three Panthers have made at least eight 3-pointers in a game. Malik Benlevi knocked down eight against UGA (11/21), while Jeff Thomas did it against Mercer (11/13) earlier this year. Last season, Devin Mitchell made 10 3-pointers at Little Rock.
• Since the 2013-14 season, GSU has won more games (125) than any other NCAA Division I team in Georgia.
• Junior D’Marcus Simonds is averaging 17.9 points per game for his career which currently ranks No. 19 among all active NCAA players and is tops in the Sun Belt. He has made 557 career field goals which is No. 45 among all active players and the No. 4 junior in the country.
• Simonds was named the Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year after earning AP All-America Honorable Mention last season. He earned Sun Belt Player of the Week honors on Nov. 12.
Jeff Thomas (190/4th), Devin Mitchell (184/5th) and Malik Benlevi (154/10th) all rank among Georgia State career top 10 in 3-point field goals made.
• GSU is one of just 13 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).
• Head coach Ron Hunter, Georgia State’s all-time leader in wins, earned the 150th win of his career at GSU in the opening game of the Cayman Islands Classic against St. Bonaventure.
• Hunter has led the Panthers to four of the seven most successful seasons in program history, including a pair of 25-win seasons and 24 wins last year.