On Monday night, the Georgia State Panthers travel to Tuscaloosa, AL for the opening game of the National Invitational Tournament Season Tip-Off to battle with the Cowboys of McNeese State.
After falling 80-86 to Vanderbilt in Nashville last week, the Panthers (1-1) are looking to grab their second win of the year. A win against the Cowboys (2-1) would propel them to the regional final against the winner of the Alabama and Stillman College matchup.
The Panthers are led by a deadly scoring combo of RJ Hunter and Ryan Harrow. Hunter is scoring 24 points per and Harrow at 23.5 after the two contests this year. Harrow led all scorers in the loss to Vanderbilt with 27 points, a career-high, and was followed by Hunter with 21.
Harrow shot 10-21 from the field and dished out four assists in 38 minutes of action against the ‘Dores.
Devonta White, who moved into 15th on the all-time scoring list at GSU, is contributing 12.5 points per game, and seems to be benefiting from the move to shooting guard with the arrival of Harrow.
USC transfer, Curtis Washington, is averaging 9.5 points and eight rebounds per contest. He followed up his nine block season opening performance with four more against Vandy.
The Cowboys are coming off a win over Louisiana College after opening the season with losses to Michigan State and Louisiana Lafayette, a Sun Belt Conference mate of the Panthers. They are lead by Ledrick Eackles at 15 points and six rebounds per game.
If the Panthers win both games in Tuscaloosa, they will travel to Madison Square Garden in New York City over the Thanksgiving Holiday to play in the semifinals on ESPN. The Panthers will need their bench to step up to make that happen, though. After the reserves scored only three points against Vanderbilt, Head Coach Ron Hunter is going to need more production Monday and Tuesday.
Rashaad Richardson, who has yet to record a field goal, has to come alive to keep the Panthers competitive. He is one of the best three-point shooters on the team, but has struggled since the season started after two outstanding exhibition games.
TJ Shipes played well against Vanderbilt, but got in foul trouble quickly against the much bigger SEC post players. If Shipes can manage to stay on the court longer, he could be a huge factor in the outcome, allowing Washington more time to rest on the bench if need be.
If not, the Panthers will rely heavily on their five starters two nights in a row against two formidable teams, something Ron Hunter would prefer not to do.
Stay tuned for a recap after the game.