Game Notes attached
• Georgia State made its second NCAA Tournament in the last four years in 2018 and returns four of five starters from the 2017-18 squad.
• Georgia State will face Liberty for a second-straight season to complete a home-and-home series.
• The Panthers dropped a 77-74 overtime decision to the Flames in Atlanta last season.
• Georgia State is currently in the midst of a six-game stretch away from home. The Panthers are 3-1 on the trip earning a third-place finish in the Cayman Islands Classic last week.
• With a win, Georgia State would improve to 6-2 for the third time in the last five seasons.
• Last time out, Malik Benlevi scored a career-high 25 points, knocking down five 3-pointers to give the Panthers an 80-76 win at Tulane.
• In the last two games, Benlevi has knocked down 13 3-pointers on just 22 attempts.
• Over the last 10 months, three Panthers have made at least eight 3-pointers in a game. Malik Benlevi knocked down eight against UGA last week, while Jeff Thomas did it against Mercer earlier this year. Last season, Devin Mitchell made 10 3-pointers at Little Rock.
• In the latest CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll, Georgia State was ranked No. 20. Liberty is currently receiving votes.
• Since the start of the 2013-14 season, Georgia State has won more games (115) than any other NCAA Division I team in Georgia.
• GSU will face five 2018 NCAA Tournament teams this season. GSU has already faced Montana, St. Bonaventure, and Creighton. GSU also has games at Alabama (Tues.) and Kansas State on the list.
• Since returning to the Sun Belt in 2013-14, Georgia State has finished in the top two of the final regular season conference standings four times.
• D’Marcus Simonds was named the Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year after earning AP All-America Honorable Mention recognition last season. He also earned Sun Belt Player of the Week honors on Nov. 12.
• Jeff Thomas has made 161 3-pointers in his career, seventh on GSU’s all-time.
• GSU is one of just 13 programs in the country to feature two assistant coaches who have NCAA D1 head coach experience (McCallum – Ball State/Houston/Detroit and Williams – Tennessee State).
• GSU was one of just 13 schools in the country to win a bowl game and advance to the NCAA Tournament last year. Only three schools (GSU, Marshall and New Mexico State) are non-Power 5 programs.
• Head coach Ron Hunter, Georgia State’s all-time leader in wins, earned the 150th win of his career at GSU in the opening game of the Cayman Islands Classic against St. Bonaventure.
• Hunter has led the Panthers to four of the seven most successful seasons in program history, including a pair of 25-win seasons and 24 wins last year.
Georgia State Opens December on the Road at Liberty
ATLANTA-Coming off a record-tying month of November, Georgia State will open December on the road in Lynchburg, Va., on Saturday facing Liberty in the Vines Center at 6 p.m.
Georgia State (5-2) won five games in November for just the third time in program history following a victory over Tulane on Wednesday. The previous two times the Panthers won five games in the opening month of the season (2014-15, 2017-18), Georgia State advanced to the NCAA Tournament the following March.
Liberty (6-1) is off to an equally impressive start to the season. The six wins for the Flames are the most in school history in the month of November.
Saturday’s contest can be heard live on WAOK-AM 1380 with Dave Cohen, now in his 36th year as the Voice of the Panthers, calling the action. The game will also air live on ESPN+ with Matt Warner and Paul Nazgian calling the action. Live statistics and live audio will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com and on most mobile devices.
The Panthers are off to a 5-2 start for the third time in the last five years and are currently in the midst of a six-game stretch away from home in which they are 3-1.
Senior Malik Benlevi enters play as one of the hottest 3-point shooters in the country. In the last two games, Benvlevi has knocked down 13-of-22 from beyond the arc while earning career-high point totals in each game. On Wednesday he finished with 25 points as the Panthers knocked off Tulane 80-76.
Junior D’Marcus Simonds, who leads the Sun Belt Conference averaging 21.6 points per game, has moved into sixth-place on Georgia State’s all-time scoring list with 1,281 points. He enters play on Saturday just 94 points shy of Chavelo Holmes for fifth on the all-time list.
Simonds, the Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year, is 32nd in the nation in scoring while shooting 45.7 percent from the floor.
“As I have said before, we wanted to play the toughest schedule we could early in the year to prepare us for February and March,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “Saturday’s game will be no different as Liberty has a very good program and we will encounter arguably our toughest environment of the year. However, our team knows what it takes to win on the road and I know will be ready on Saturday.”
Georgia State and Liberty will be closing out a home and home series that started in Atlanta last year as the Flames earned a 77-74 overtime victory.
Senior Jeff Thomas is averaging a career-best 12.6 points per game and has now moved within 100 points of Georgia State’s top 25 in career scoring. Thomas is averaging 2.4 3-pointers per game, tied for fifth in the Sun Belt, while also pulling down 4.6 defensive rebounds per contest which ranks No. 11.
Georgia State enters play averaging 8.4 steals per game, No. 2 in the Sun Belt and 43rd in the NCAA. Benlevi, along with sophomore Kane Williams rank among the top three in the conference in steals. The Panthers 5.7 blocks per game average is first in the league and No. 18 in the nation.
Following Saturday’s game, Georgia State will close out its six game stretch away from home traveling to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to face Alabama on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET. The game will air live on SECN+.
MIKE HOLMES | Associate Athletic Director – Sports Communications | Georgia State University
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