After a grueling six-game road trip, where Georgia State delivered astonishing victories over Georgia (Nov. 21) and Alabama (Dec. 4), Georgia State finally made their way back to the GSU Sports Arena to face the Chattanooga Mocs Thursday night. Led by D’Marcus Simonds’ 24 points, the Panthers defeated the Mocs 95-88.
Senior forward Malik Benlevi added 14 points, while Devin Mitchell, who is playing in just his third game of the season due to a knee ailment, poured in 17 points and shot 50 percent from 3-point range. Mitchell played 32 minutes off the bench and made four of his first five shots. The Panthers continued to play efficient offense and shot 57.7 percent from the floor and 43.5 percent from behind the arc. Kane Williams also had a terrific offensive outing adding 17 points and shooting 9-of-12 from the free-throw line.
“I thought we moved the ball extremely well tonight and offensively played well,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “However, defensively I thought we were a step slow. Credit to Chattanooga as they came in and played tough for 40 minutes.”
Defensively, the Panthers allowed the Mocs to shoot 44.3 percent from the field, albeit, Hunter’s team usually hold teams to under 40 percent shooting. David Jean-Baptiste had a solid performance with 19 points and six assists that saw Chattanooga take an early six-point lead with 17:16 in the first half. Jerry Johnson Jr. contributed 14 points, and Jonathan Scott had 17 points. Nonetheless, the Panthers forced 14 turnovers and converted them into 16 points. Despite the Mocs shooting 40 percent from 3-point range in the first half, they finished the game shooting 38.6 percent. Not to mention, they shot an alarming 44 three-pointers.
Down the stretch, the Panthers extended their lead to nine points just before halftime and did not blink for the duration of the game. The Panthers led by as many as 16 points with 1:10 remaining in the game before Hunter allowed his freshmen to log minutes.
What’s next for the Panthers
Georgia State is on the road again this weekend as they prepare to battle No. 25 Kansas State Wildcats Saturday. According to Georgiastatesports.com, the Panther will have traveled 10,456 miles to road games during non-conference play. Well, they’ve made their trips count. After dismantling Georgia in the Cayman Islands Challenge and appearing on ESPN after their miraculous upset against Alabama, Georgia State is oozing with confidence ahead of their matchup with the Wildcats. Dethroning the No. 25 team in the country would do the Panthers justice in making their case for an at-large bid, shall they fail to secure the Sun Belt Conference. So, Panther Family, brace yourself for what could be another classic in Georgia Sports history.