Game Notes attached
• Georgia State made its second NCAA Tournament in the last four years in 2018 and returns four of five starters. GSU has finished in the top two of the final regular season conference standings four times in the last five years.
• Georgia State has combined to go 14-6 in the state of Louisiana since rejoining the Sun Belt. Earlier this year GSU topped Tulane in New Orleans 80-76, before falling to ULM 82-76 on Wednesday night.
• Georgia State is currently in first place in the Sun Belt Conference standings at 7-3. The Panthers have finished no worse than second in the Sun Belt in four of the last five years.
• The Panthers topped Louisiana 89-76 in January knocking down 13 3-pointers.
• The Panthers are 72-32 in Sun Belt Conference regular season games since rejoining the league in 2013-14.
• Georgia State is 15-0 when leading at the half this season, among the top 5 most wins at the half in the country without a loss.
• Georgia State’s 16-7 start is the tied for the fourth-best 23-game start in program history.
• Georgia State won nine non-conference games, tied for the most in program history.
• Georgia State faced five opponents who competed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament in the first 11 games of the season. (Montana, St. Bonaventure, Creighton, Alabama, and No. 24 Kansas State) all away from home going 2-3.
• GSU has beaten two Power 5 opponents in one season for the second time in program history (Georgia and Alabama). Those wins are the only two P5 wins for Sun Belt schools this season.
• GSU’s 21-point halftime comeback at Alabama is tied for the 12th-largest halftime comeback in NCAA history.
• Over the last 12 months, three Panthers have made at least eight 3-pointers in a game. Malik Benlevi knocked down eight against UGA (11/21), while Jeff Thomas did it against Mercer (11/13) earlier this year. Last season, Devin Mitchell made 10 3-pointers at Little Rock.
• Georgia State set a school and conference record with 323 3-pointers last season. Averaging 9.8 3-pointers per game this season, the Panthers are on pace to break that mark.
• Since the 2013-14 season, GSU has won more games (126) than any other NCAA Division I team in Georgia.
• Junior D’Marcus Simonds is averaging 18.0 points per game for his career which currently ranks No. 18 among all active NCAA players and is tops in the Sun Belt. He has made 583 career field goals which is No. 42 among all active players and the No. 3 junior in the country.
• Simonds was named the Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year after earning AP All-America Honorable Mention last season. He earned Sun Belt Player of the Week honors on Nov. 12.
• Jeff Thomas (192/4th), Devin Mitchell (190/5th) and Malik Benlevi (158/10th) all rank among Georgia State career top 10 in 3-point field goals made.
• 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).
• 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 and Louisiana Square Off on ESPN2 Friday Night
LAFAYETTE, La.-Georgia State and Louisiana, the two winningest programs in the Sun Belt Conference over the last six years, will square off in the Cajundome on Friday night at 9 p.m. in front of a national TV audience for the third time during the stretch.
Georgia State (16-7, 7-3 Sun Belt) and Louisiana (13-10, 4-6 Sun Belt) are both looking to rebound from tough losses on Wednesday night. Friday’s game will air live on ESPN2, marking the third time the two schools have played on ‘The Deuce’ since 2014.
Friday’s contest can be heard live on WAOK-AM 1380 and WRAS-FM 88.5 with Dave Cohen, now in his 36th year as the Voice of the Panthers, being joined by former Panther Lamont McIntosh calling the action. Live statistics and live audio will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com and on most mobile devices.
Georgia State enters Friday in first place in the league, a spot that has been very familiar for the Panthers over the years. The Panthers have finished in the top two in the conference standings in four of the last five seasons.
The Panthers have had equal success in the Bayou State during that time compiling a 14-6 record, including a 1-1 mark this season after a win at Tulane in November.
Five members of Georgia State’s line-up are averaging in double figures, while defensively the Panthers rank among the top 50 in the NCAA in total steals and top 20 in total blocked shots. Georgia State has made 225 3-pointers (top 30 in the NCAA) after setting a school and conference record with 323 last year.
“One of the best things about this team and what we have built with our program is our ability to bounce back,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “Obviously we were not happy with the loss on Wednesday, but our guys are already excited to get back out on the court. We never like to lose, but when we do, we generally bounce back pretty quickly.”
Since returning from injury, senior Devin Mitchell has shown why he is one of the best shooters in the country. After missing the first seven games, Mitchell has returned to average 13.6 points per game while shooting 47.2 percent from 3-point range. He has made 58 3-pointers in 16 games this season after knocking down 98 treys last year.
Junior D’Marcus Simonds, the Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year, is seventh in the league averaging 19.0 points per game. He stands in second-place on Georgia State’s all-time scoring list with 1,568 points after scoring 18 against ULM. He is just 252 points shy of R.J. Hunter from becoming the all-time career points leader in program history. His career scoring averaging of 18.0 points per game ranks No. 18 among all active NCAA players.
Senior Malik Benlevi, who has knocked down a 50 3-pointers, is averaging 11.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Senior Jeff Thomas is adding 11.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest and has knocked down 48 3-pointers this season.
Senior Jordan Tyson has rounded out the starting line-up the last three games. Against Georgia Southern he pulled down a career-high eight rebounds in 21 minutes of action.
Sophomore Kane Williams, who has come off the bench last three games, is averaging 10.6 points and 3.5 assists per game.
Following Friday’s game, Georgia State will return home to face Troy next Wednesday at 7 p.m.
MIKE HOLMES | Associate Athletic Director – Sports Communications | Georgia State University
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