Georgia State improved to 2-3 on the season with a victory Tuesday night against Samford which avenged last year’s overtime loss to their former conference foe. GSU, the most frequent opponent in Samford’s history, took a two-game lead in the series record, 25-23. The win came despite yet another poor shooting performance from the Panthers due to another stellar defensive showing. Georgia State held Samford to just 36.7 percent shooting and forced 13 turnovers.
“I am proud of the defensive effort we gave again tonight,” Hunter said of his team’s performance. “This is the second straight game that we have held a team to 50 points or fewer and that is not easy to do. If we keep playing great defense and getting the rebounds that we are getting, the scoring will come.”
Indeed it has been the defense that has won games for the Panthers early on this season. The Panthers rank in the top half in the CAA in nearly every defensive category despite playing four teams that won 20 games last season. Georgia State ranks 4th in the conference in shots blocked, 2nd in steals, and 4th in turnover margin. Another key stat on the season, and on Tuesday night as well, has been rebounding. Georgia State has dominated the boards, including a 43-27 advantage against the Bulldogs, and rank at the top of the conference in offensive rebounds. Coach Hunter commented after the game on how his team has done little things to pick up victories.
“As coaches, you always want to play well and get the victory,” said Hunter. “Sometimes you have to learn to win when things do not necessarily go your way like, as was the case tonight. We did not play well, but we were able to do the things we needed to for the win.”
Georgia State was led by senior Jihad Ali, who came off the bench to score 20 points and grab 6 rebounds. Ali has been one of the more consistent players this season for GSU. The Panthers also received another great performance from Josh Micheuax who nearly recorded his second straight double-double, scoring 12 points and pulling in 9 rebounds. James Fields returned to the lineup after having missed the last three games due to a groin injury. Samford was led by John Petersen who scored 14 points and made 3 three-pointers.
It appears as though Brandon McGee may have found himself out of Ron Hunter’s rotation. The senior forward, who has been an enigma throughout his Georgia State career, played just 3 minutes last night. While he has shown flashes of his ability, it appears his inconsistency is just too much for Hunter to overlook.
Georgia State retrurns home to host Liberty this Saturday at 7:30.