Georgia State will close out a stretch of three-straight road games at first-place Little Rock Saturday at the Jack Stephens Center.
Georgia State (12-6, 5-4 Sun Belt) has dropped back-to-back games for the first time since the first week of January last season. The Panthers are tied for fifth-place in the league, but remain just a one-game out of second-place after winning each of the last two regular season titles. The 12-6 mark is the fourth-best 18-game start in program history.
Saturday’s contest can be heard live on 1340 The Fan 3 and WRAS-FM 88.5 with Dave Cohen, now in his 33rd year as the Voice of the Panthers, being joined by 680 The Fan’s Brandon Leak. The game will also air on ESPN3. Live statistics and live audio will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com and on most mobile devices.
Georgia State is coming off a tough 75-69 overtime loss at Arkansas State Thursday as senior T.J. Shipes just missed a double-double with eight points and 11 rebounds. After trailing most of the game, Arkansas State scored a pair of baskets in the final 17 seconds to take its first lead of the second half. Isaiah Williams made one of two free throws with 7.8 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime.
“There is no doubt our team was disappointed with the result Thursday, but that game is over and now we look forward to Little Rock,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “This team knows that all of our goals are still ahead of us. Little Rock is play great basketball and will be a challenge, but our team is up to the challenge.”
Hunter enters play Saturday with a 99-53 record at Georgia State and can become just the third coach in program history to record 100 wins. Hunter owns three of the six single-season best win totals in school history.
Despite the loss the last time out, the Panthers are 37-10 mark in conference games since their return to the Sun Belt. Georgia State is 59-19 in their last 78 games dating back to Dec. 14, 2013 and has won 18-of-25 games dating back to last season.
Georgia State has built its winning this year with defense. The Panthers are allowing opponents to score just 62.8 points per game, third in the Sun Belt and No. 17 in the country. Teams are shooting just 39.7 percent from the floor and 30.8 percent from 3-point range against the Panthers this year.
On the other end, Georgia State has turned the ball over just 200 times, 18th-fewest in the country, while forcing 238.
The Panthers are led by redshirt-junior Jeremy Hollowell who is averaging 14.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game and senior Kevin Ware, scoring 13.1 points and adding 3.9 rebounds per contest.
Senior Markus Crider played in his 117th career game Thursday and stands tied for seventh on the all-time Georgia State list. He is averaging 8.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game and is one of four Panthers shooting 50.0 percent or better from the floor.
Dennis, who was inserted in to the starting line-up last week, is shooting a team-best 61.8 percent from the floor and averaging 5.3 points per game. Senior T.J. Shipes rounds out the starting line-up and has pulled down 31 rebounds in the last three games.
Little Rock (18-2, 8-1 Sun Belt) is led by Marcus Johnson Jr., who is averaging 13.5 points per game. All-conference performer Josh Hagins is adding 12.2 points, 4.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game. The Trojans are ranked No. 3 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 and have received votes in by the AP and Coaches Polls this year.
Following Saturday’s game, Georgia State will return home and face Texas State next Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET. The game will air live on ESPN3.