ATLANTA-Entering the second half of Sun Belt Conference play, Georgia State will travel to face UL Monroe on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET at Fant-Ewing Coliseum. It marks the first of two straight weeks playing a Wednesday/Friday schedule.
Georgia State (16-6, 7-2 Sun Belt) took over sole possession of first place in the league standings on Saturday following an 81-72 victory over in-state rival Georgia Southern. The Panthers will now look to earn the regular season sweep of UL Monroe (11-10, 4-5 Sun Belt) after topping the Warhawks 74-73 in Atlanta last month.
Wednesday’s contest can be heard live on WAOK-AM 1380 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+. Live statistics and live audio will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com and on most mobile devices.
Georgia State, which is off to its second-best start in program history, has had equal success in the state of Louisiana. The Panthers are 14-5 in the Bayou State since returning to the Sun Belt for the 2013-14 season after a win at Tulane in November.
Five members of Georgia State’s line-up are averaging in double figures, while defensively the Panthers rank No. 52 in the NCAA in total steals and No. 18 in total blocked shots. Georgia State has made 214 3-pointers (No. 33 in the NCAA) after setting a school and conference record with 323 last year.
“Although we have a little bit of a shorter turnaround this week than normal, our guys are really locked in knowing that it is now February and time for us to be playing our best basketball of the year,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “We know that ULM will be fired up to play us after we were able to beat them at our place, so we need to be ready from the tip to play 40 great minutes of basketball.”
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 13.5 points per game while shooting 47.6 percent from 3-point range. He has made 55 3-pointers in 15 games this season after knocking down 98 treys last year.
Junior D’Marcus Simonds, the Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year, is seventh in the league averaging 19.0 points per game. He stands in second-place on Georgia State’s all-time scoring list with 1,549 points after scoring 29 against Georgia Southern last Saturday. He is just 270 points shy of R.J. Hunter from becoming the all-time career points leader in program history. His career scoring averaging of 18.0 points per game ranks No. 18 among all active NCAA players.
Senior Malik Benlevi, who has knocked down a 48 3-pointers, is averaging 11.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Senior Jeff Thomas is adding 12.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest and has knocked down 46 3-pointers this season. He became just the 21st Panther to reach 1,000 career points last month against UT Arlington.
Senior Jordan Tyson has rounded out the starting line-up the last two games. Against Georgia Southern, he pulled down a career-high eight rebounds in 21 minutes of action.
Sophomore Kane Williams, who has come off the bench last two games, is averaging 10.5 points and 3.7 assists per game. He finished with 19 points last Saturday in the win over the Eagles.
- Georgia State’s 16-6 start to the season is tied for the second-best 22-game start in program history.
- Since the start of the 2013-14 season, the Panthers have won more games (126) than any other NCAA Division I team in the state of Georgia.
- Jeff Thomas (190/4th), Devin Mitchell (187/5th) and Malik Benlevi (156/10th) all rank among Georgia State career top 10 in 3-point field goals made.
Following Wednesday’s game, Georgia State will travel to Lafayette to play Louisiana on Friday night. The game will air live on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. ET.