What You Need to Know:
* Georgia State will close out 2017 with a New Year's Eve showdown with Troy at Trojan Arena.
* Sophomore D'Marcus Simonds leads the Panthers averaging 21.6 points per game, ranked No. 24 in the NCAA.
* This marks the fourth time the Panthers and Trojans meet during 2017 with each team winning on the opponent's home court and Troy taking the third match-up in the Sun Belt tournament semifinals in New Orleans.
MOBILE, Ala.-Georgia State
Georgia State (9-5, 0-1 Sun Belt) has won six of its last nine games with two of the losses coming in overtime. The Panthers tied the school record for the most non-conference wins in school history and are off to the fourth-best start in program history.
Troy (6-8, 0-1 Sun Belt) has won two of the three match-ups with the Panthers this year, but Georgia State’s lone win came as a 78-72 victory in Trojan Arena last January.
Since returning to the Sun Belt for the 2013-14 season, the Panthers have won 53 conference games. No other program in the league has won more than 47 games during that time.
Sunday’s contest can be heard live on 1340 The Fan 3/103.7 FM with Dave Cohen, now in his 35th year as the Voice of the Panthers, being joined by 680 The Fan’s Brandon Leak. The game will also air live on the WatchESPN/ESPN3 platform. Live statistics and live audio will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com and on most mobile devices.
The Panthers are coming off a tough 86-64 Sun Belt opening loss to South Alabama on Friday night. Sophomore D’Marcus Simonds scored 27 points, but the Panthers allowed the Jaguars to shoot 52.7 percent, including 12-of-24 from 3-point range.
“Things definitely did not go the way we wanted on Friday night, but as we have learned over the years, there is still a lot of basketball to play,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “The best part about a tough loss like that is we are able to get right back on the court tomorrow to get that bitter taste out of our mouths.”
Hunter, who picked up his 400th career win earlier this year, is already Georgia State’s all-time winningest coach, despite this being just his seventh season at the helm of the Panthers.
Georgia State enters play ranked first in the league in field goal percentage defense (39.8), turnover margin (+5.1) and steals (8.8), along with third in scoring defense (65.3).
However, the Panthers’ offense is equally good. Georgia State is second in 3-point field goal percentage (37.4) and fifth in 3-point field goals made per game (8.5).
Among Georgia State’s most potent offensive options is Simonds who enters Sunday averaging 21.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. His points per game total would set a school record if the season ended today. The reigning Sun Belt Freshman of the Year has scored in double figures in 31-straight games dating back to last year.
Simonds is one of three Panthers scoring in double figures. Junior Devin Mitchell is second on the team averaging 11.6 points per game. He has made a team-high 36 3-pointers and is shooting 43.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Junior Malik Benlevi rounds out the group and is averaging 10.8 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds per game, shooting 49.2 percent from 3-point range. He is second in the Sun Belt with 33.7 minutes played per game, only behind Simonds.
- Simonds 21.6 points per game scoring average
isNo. 24 in the NCAA and his total points scored (302) ranks No. 13.
- Simonds ranks in the top five in the Sun Belt in scoring, assists, steals and minutes played.
- Seniors Jordan Session and Isaiah Williams have both reached the 100 career games played mark this season. Last year three Panthers accomplished the mark.
- Isaiah Williams enters play needing just 40 points for 1,000 in his career.
Following the game on Saturday, Georgia State will return home to face Little Rock on Thursday night at 7:15 p.m. in the GSU Sports Arena live on WatchESPN/ESPN3.
• Georgia State and Troy will meet for the fourth time in the calendar year 2017 on Sunday.
• The Panthers have won six of their last nine with two of the losses coming in overtime.
• Georgia State leads the all-time series with Troy 18-14, but the Trojans have won three of the last four.
• Last season each team won on the opponent’s home court, with Troy taking the tiebreaker in the semifinals of the Sun Belt tournament in New Orleans.
• Georgia State’s 9-5 start is tied for the fourth-best 13-game start in program history.
• Georgia State won nine non-conference games this year, tied for the most in program history.
• The Panthers have won 53 Sun Belt games since returning to the league in 2013. No other program in the league has more than 47 wins during that time.
• Georgia State is coming off a tough 86-64 loss at South Alabama in the Sun Belt opener on Friday.
• Sophomore D’Marcus Simonds has a pair of double-doubles already this season and has scored in double figures in 31-straight games.
• Simonds is averaging 21.6 points per game which would set a school record if the season ended today. He is currently ranked No. 24 in the NCAA in scoring.
• Georgia State enters play ranked No. 14 in the NCAA with a turnover margin of 5.1 and No. 15 in total steals with 123.
• Ron Hunter, GSU’s all-time leader in wins, won his 400th career game on 11/22 against EWU.
• Hunter has led the Panthers to four of the seven most successful seasons in program history, including a pair of 25-win seasons.
• Isaiah Williams played in his 100th career game earlier this year. He is 40 pts. shy of 1,000 for his career.
• Williams, along with Jordan Session have both surpassed 100 career games played this season.
• Georgia State was picked to finish second in the annual Sun Belt Coaches’ Preseason Poll.
• Georgia State is currently receiving votes in the latest CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll.
• The Panthers have won 20 or more games in three of the last four seasons, advancing to postseason play in each of those years.
• Since the start of the 2013-14 season, the Panthers have won 95 games, the most of any NCAA Division 1 program in the state of Georgia.
• Following today’s game, Georgia State will return home to face Little Rock on Thursday at 7:15 p.m.