Panthers Set to Host FIU, Hall of Fame Coach

FIU Head Coach Isiah Thomas (Getty Images)

GSU will welcome former conference foe Florida International University to the Georgia State Sports Arena on Thursday Night. FIU is coached by NBA Hall of Famer, Isaiah Thomas. The former Detroit Piston star is in his third season as head coach of FIU.

Georgia State (4-3) returns home Thursday night coming off the most impressive road win in program history. GSU will play host to Florida International (2-3), who are also the Panthers. The two teams were both members of the Trans America Athletic Conference and met twice a year each season from 1992-1998. Georgia State has faced FIU 15 times in their history, winning 8, and posting a 5-2 record at home.

Coach Ron Hunter’s team played their most complete game of the season on Tuesday against South Carolina State, winning their 4th straight game by a score of 85-54. Coach Hunter commented on his team’s recent play earlier this week.

"Tuesday night was the first time this year that I felt as though we played a very well-rounded game," commented head coach Ron Hunter. "We are getting production out of every area of our team. Our starters and bench are playing well, we are scoring on the inside and we are making a good percentage of three-pointers. When you add all of that up, it makes for a very good combination.”

While Tuesday night was one of the best offensive performances of the year, the Panthers have built their win streak by playing great defense.

"The one thing though that I might be most happy about is our defensive effort,” commented Hunter. “During our winning streak, teams are averaging only 50 points a game against us. At this level of competition, that is something that is extremely difficult to do and I am very proud of that."

FIU, who will be looking for their first road win of the season, have faced a tough non-conference schedule so far this season. In their last game, they defeated previously unbeaten Coastal Carolina, 64-62. Their second victory this season came against Colonial Athletic Association member George Mason, whom FIU defeated 79-76 in overtime.

FIU is led by three scorers who average in double figures. Jeremy Allen, a senior guard from Detroit, Michigan, leads the team with 15.8 points per game while also leading the team in steals. Allen is averaging 3.6 steals per game, which ranks fourth in the NCAA. DeJuan Wright, another senior guard who is also from Detroit, is second on the team in scoring, averaging 15 points per game. Point Guard Phil Taylor, from nearby Marietta, Georgia, runs the offense while scoring 13.6 points per game and dishing just under 7 assists per game also.

Georgia State will most likely have the advantage down low tonight. Florida International does feature a 7-foot freshman center that has started the last two games, but Eric Buckner is playing his best basketball as a Panther, and Georgia State has consistently out-rebounded their opponents for most of the season. Look for the GSU to attack the basket off the dribble and use a lot of cuts to try and get easy baskets. Devonta White and Josh Micheaux are the best players on the team at attacking the rim and will need to do so at a high level tonight. The Panthers will need another complete performance in what is sure to be another great chapter in this series history.

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