With the conference tournament less than two weeks ago, Georgia State will open its final road trip of the season at Little Rock in the Jack Stephens Center on Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Georgia State (17-10, 10-5 Sun Belt) sits in a tie for third, just a game and a half out of first place with three regular season games remaining. A top four finish would guarantee the Panthers a bye in the first round of the Sun Belt Championship.
Little Rock (13-14, 4-10 Sun Belt) remains the defending conference champions, but have lost three-straight and seven of eight. This will mark the first and only match-up between the Panthers and Trojans this season. The two programs have combined to win the last three Sun Belt regular season championships.
Saturday’s contest can be heard live on 1340 The Fan 3 and 1230 The Fan 2 with Dave Cohen, now in his 34th year as the Voice of the Panthers, being joined by 680 The Fan’s Brandon Leak. Live statistics and live audio will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com and on most mobile devices.
Georgia State freshman D’Marcus Simonds, who missed the first three games of Sun Belt play due to an injury has been rolling since his return. He is currently averaging 12.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, while shooting 58.4 percent from the floor which is ranked No. 29 in the nation. He has upped his scoring averaging to 16.3 points per game in conference play.
“We earned a much needed win on Monday night and got some much needed rest on Tuesday and Wednesday,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “I was impressed that our guys came back and had a great practice on Thursday. They are locked in and know what we need to do on Saturday night.”
Senior Jeremy Hollowell, an All-Sun Belt Preseason Second Team member, continues to lead the Panthers averaging 15.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. He scored the 1,000th point of his career at Troy earlier this year and now has 868 points in a Georgia State uniform.
He is one of six Panthers scoring 6.0 or more points per game, as 10 members of the team average at least 11 minutes per game. Hollowell has scored 20 or more points in a game eight times this year.
Senior Willie Clayton also joined the 1,000 career point club a few weeks ago. He is currently one of just nine active NCAA players to record at least 1,000 career points and 850 career rebounds. Clayton is averaging 6.0 points and 7.0 rebounds this season.
Sophomore Malik Benlevi has easily been Georgia State’s most improved player since last year. In Sun Belt games, Benlevi is averaging 9.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 54.9 percent from the floor.
Junior Isaiah Williams is adding 8.6 points and dishing out 2.1 assists per game. He leads the team with 54 assists and is one of six Panthers with at least 20 steals this season.
· Georgia State is first in the Sun Belt and No. 38 in the NCAA averaging 7.7 steals per game.
· Despite several players in their first year at Georgia State, the Panthers starting line-up doesn’t lack experience. Both Jeremy Hollowell (119) and Willie Clayton (123) played in their 100th career games during non-conference play.
· Georgia State is No. 32 in the NCAA with 48.0 field goal percentage and No. 45 with a 40.9 field goal percentage defense.
· Senior Willie Clayton has 871 career rebounds, ranked No. 12 in the NCAA among all active players.
Little Rock is led by Marcus Johnson Jr., who is averaging 13.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. Last time out, Little Rock fell to in-state rival Arkansas State 67-58.
Following Saturday’s game, Georgia State will end its road trip at Arkansas State on Monday at 8 p.m., live on WatchESPN.