Georgia State Panthers upset Baylor to advance


Coaching from a stool, Ron Hunter led the Georgia State Panthers to just their second-ever NCAA tournament victory in school history. The Panthers took down third-seeded Baylor in a 57-56 West Regional second-round thriller in Jacksonville, Fla., that was capped by a last-second dagger by star guard and coach’s son, R.J. Hunter.

The Panthers were the second No. 14 seed to take down a No. 3 seed Thursday afternoon; earlier, UAB stunned Iowa State.

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Georgia State was able to hang close at the half only being down 33-30 at the intermission. The Panthers struggled early in the first session, falling down 16-6 to start the game as Baylor scored on its first seven possessions. Georgia State was able to gain its composure and get back into the ball game.

Taking advantage of a four-minute scoring drought by the Bears, GSU was able to pull off its own 13-3 run. The Panthers were also beneficiaries of seven Baylor first-half turnovers.

Both teams did a solid job shooting the ball in the first session, each team hitting better than 50 percent of their shots from the field. The Panthers’ early effort is extremely impressive considering it was done without much help from R.J. Hunter.

The potential first-round draft pick was only 1-of-4 shooting and had only two points before the intermission. Georgia State was led by guard Ryann Green’s eight points, while forward Markus Crider and reserve guard Isaiah Dennis added six each for Rod Hunter’s ball club.

The second half started with pushing the tempo a little more but the Panthers would never quite go away. By the midpoint of the period it appeared that Baylor was going to pull and was ahead by 12 points with 2:54 left in the contest. The Bears then tried to take the air out of the ball and run and hide with the game.

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  • They did not count on R.J. Hunter and the Panthers fighting back so hard late in the game. Hunter, who was generally quiet for most of the game, showed why he is high on NBA draft boards. The coach’s son scored 12 of the final 13 GSU points, which included a long 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds left in the contest to ice the game.

    Baylor did not score a basket in the final three minutes, with Rico Gathers missing a key layup with 26 seconds left that could have saved the game for the Bears.

    Georgia State was led by R.J. Hunter’s 16 points, of which 14 came in the second half. The Panthers also got 11 points from Green and 10 points from Crider in the winning effort. The team collectively had 13 steals which contributed to Baylor’s massive 21 turnovers.

    The Bears got 18 points off the bench from forward Taurean Prince but no other player reached double figures. Despite the 40-23 rebounding advantage Baylor had in the game, they just couldn’t resist turning the ball back over to Georgia State.

    Next up for the Panthers in Jacksonville will be the winner of the Xavier and Ole Miss game. Stay tuned for more GSU March Madness coverage.

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