There’s No Place Like Home !! That is what the Georgia State Men’s and Women’s teams hope to be singing after playing their next 5 games at the GSU Sports Arena. First up with the Troy Trojans Thursday evening, with the Women playing at 5 pm and the Men to follow at 7:30pm.
Ron Hunter’s crew opened Sun Belt Conference play last week by doing the Texas Two Step . The first stop, at UT-Arlington ended on a sour note, but the Panthers rebounded nicely with a victory at Texas State.
With their season mark at (8-3) and (1-1) in the Sun Belt, Georgia State welcomes a Troy club that is (5-8) with a (0-2) mark in the conference. The Trojans bring a 3 game losing streak to town along with some familiar names and one very familiar face. Head Coach Phil Cunningham is no stranger to Decatur Street, having served as an assistant coach during ” Lefty ” Driesell’s tenure at GSU. Cunningham was also Assistant Athletic Director, and was the color analyst on the Panther Radio Network.
The Trojans are led by the 1-2 combination of Wesley Person, Jr, and Jordan Varnado, both averaging more than 17 points per game. Person is the son of former Auburn and NBA Star Wesley Person, Sr and is the nephew to former Auburn and NBA Star Chuck Person, aka The Rifleman. Wesley, Jr is building a pretty strong resume of his own after claiming Freshman Of The Year honors in the Sun Belt last season. Varnado is the younger brother of Jarvis Varnado, who was a force in the paint at Mississippi State, ending his college career as the NCAA’s All-Time Leader in Blocked Shots.
Look for Hunter’s Panthers to lean on their defense to try and earn the 9th win of the season. GSU is currently ranked second in the Sun Belt in both Blocked Shots and Steals. A consistent offensive output from Jeff Thomas would be a welcomed sight. The red shirt freshman scored a career high 21 points, including 7 3-pointers in the loss at UT-Arlington. If the three balls fall early, it could prove to be the difference maker for GSU.
Meanwhile, the GSU women might kiss the Sports Arena floor before they tip off against the Troy Women. Their last game at home was back on December 5th against North Florida. Life on the road can be great for team bonding, especially a team with lots of new faces. It seems to have worked as Sharon Baldwin-Tener’s squad won 3 out of 4 and bring a record of (6-5) ,(1-1) in the Sun Belt to their home court.The Women of Troy have the same record as GSU and love to play up tempo. The Trojans have scored 100 points in 4 of their 6 wins and are led by the Sun Belt’s leading scorer, Ashley Beverly-Kelley(19.1ppg). Baldwin-Tener has made it a practice to use 9 to 10 players in each game this season. Makeba Ponder, who leads the team in 3-pointers, and Tatianna Jackson have been limited in practice due to injuries. It they can’t play the Panthers could be faced with some depth issues against high scoring Troy.
Once again, the Women’s contest begins at 5pm and can be heard on 88.5FM. The Men’s game starts at 7:30 and can be heard on 88.5FM and 1340 The Fan 3. Both games will be shown live on ESPN3