Hunter Scores 41 As Georgia State Downs UTSA 99-68


RJ Hunter of GSU – Courtesy of GSU Sports Communications

NEWSFLASH: RJ Hunter is really good.

Just in case you missed his college debut against Duke where he notched a double-double, his 38-point outburst against Old Dominion, or him being named a Freshman All-American, Hunter wanted to make sure you knew his name after playing UTSA Sunday.

The highly touted sophomore and son of GSU Head Coach Ron Hunter put together a game for the Panther record books down in San Antonio during the 99-68 blowout win over the UTSA Roadrunners. 41 points, three rebounds, three blocks and one steal on 14-21 shooting and 12-19 from three point range.

The 41 points is the fourth highest total in school history and the most points scored since Hunter dropped 38 last season against Old Dominion. The 12 three pointers breaks the previous school record of 10 held by Hunter which came in that same ODU game.

After being tabbed by many media outlets as the team to beat in the Sun Belt, the Panthers got off to a rough start. But winners of four of their last five, the Panthers are sitting at 6-6 heading into their last non-conference game against East Carolina next Sunday and playing some of their best ball in recent memory. A 31-point beat down over C-USA member UTSA will do that.

“We had such a tough start to the season and to head into the break with this type of win and getting back to .500 gives us a lot of momentum,” Coach Hunter said. “We really shot the ball well and kind of just let it all go. We have been waiting for that explosion game offensively and today we got it.”

Manny Atkins, following a career performance against Georgia Southern Friday, added 20 points and eight rebounds. Ryan Harrow contributed 19 points and eight assists.

And while all this talk of scoring is nice, the Panthers are not riding this wave of success without a change at the point guard position. Harrow, who is an NBA prospect at the position, was moved off the ball to help the team find a better rhythm. That rhythm came in the form of Devonta White who had held down that spot for three years prior to Harrow transferring in.

Since White has moved back to the point, the Panthers have clicked not only on offense, but on defense as well. The team is top 10 nationally in turnovers and climbing the chart in assists. White has dished out 21 assists in two games (11 Sunday) and his ability to run the offense and has been, arguably,  the main reason for the massive turnaround.

The move has allowed Harrow space to create more shots for himself and has forced opposing defenses to basically chose their poison. They can focus on him or Hunter, which has done nothing but create more space for White and Atkins to work, in turn opening more holes for the two scorers to get even more looks.

Coach Hunter’s defense has also turned around drastically from the beginning of the year. It can be said the Panthers play their best defense by playing great offense, but against UTSA the Panthers turned 10 steals and 17 Roadrunner turnovers into 37 points.

The home team could just never get comfortable.

The next game on the schedule is a week away at East Carolina, allowing the players time to rest and enjoy the holidays a bit. ECU beat the Panthers last year in Atlanta 62-53.

If the Panthers continue to shoot the ball this well and play defense at a high level they could very well head into Sun Belt play above .500. A Christmas miracle?

Just maybe.