GAME NOTES: A pair of squads from the Peach State will collide on Friday as the Georgia State Panthers take on the Georgia Southern Eagles in non- conference action at GSU Sports Arena.
For the visiting Eagles the season has been an inconsistent one. They are 6-6 heading into play on Friday, though they have won three of their last four bouts. Most recently the Eagles were able to roll over Kennesaw State (73-55). However, Georgia Southern is just 1-4 on the road, where they will be again next time out against North Carolina A&T.
The Panthers have won two of their last three games. Those results are far better than the four-game slide they suffered at the end of November. Georgia State owns a 4-6 overall mark, but that includes a perfect 3-0 record at GSU Sports Arena. A quick two-game road swing is next on the docket, as the Panthers will visit Texas-San Antonio and East Carolina.
This is the fifth straight season these teams have met and the 46th meeting all-time. Georgia Southern collected a 68-64 triumph last year to advance its all-time series lead to 32-13.
Disruptive defense was the major source of success for Georgia Southern against Kennesaw State. The Eagles forced 18 turnovers, which turned into 21 points, and also held their foes to just 33.9 percent shooting. Tre Bussey led four players in double figures with 16 points.
Bussey (19.0 ppg) is one of two player on the roster to consistently score in double digits. Jelani Hewitt (21.4 ppg, 3.3 apg) makes up the second part of the duo, as the team's leading scorer. Bussey has had at least 10 points in all but one game this season but has not topped 20 in the last three. The 6- foot-3 guard had seven 20-point efforts in the first 10 contests. Hewitt had 15 points against Kennesaw State, but has had 25 or more points in five games. The Eagles are an undersized bunch with Marvin Baynham (6.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg) the top frontcourt option and 6-foot-4 Angel Matias (7.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg) the leading rebounder.
Georgia State slid by Old Dominion, 79-73, in its most recent battle. The Panthers connected on 54.5 percent of their field goal attempts after halftime. Ryan Harrow tallied 33 points on 9-of-14 shooting to lead the way.
The Panthers do a better job of spreading the scoring load around, with three double-digit scorers and five players putting in at least 9.5 points per game. Harrow (19.8 ppg, 3.9 apg) is at the top of the list. The 6-foot-2 guard has scored at least 20 points in five of the last six games and seven times overall. Harrow has also had at least three assists in every game this season. R.J. Hunter (14.9 ppg) is another strong scorer, though his erratic shooting (.388) has kept him from doing more. Manny Atkins (10.8 ppg), Devonta White (9.9 ppg, 3.3 apg) and Curtis Washington (9.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg) fill important roles as well.
With their superior depth and advantage of playing on their home floor, the Panthers will be able to get the job done against the Eagles.
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