GAME NOTES: The Georgia State Panthers will try to extend their winning streak to a season-long three games when they visit the Convocation Center on Sunday afternoon to take on the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners in a non-conference clash.
Georgia State's recent two-game homestand resulted in a 79-73 victory over Old Dominion on Dec. 13 and a 73-61 triumph versus Georgia Southern on Friday night to pull to 5-6 on the year. The bad news for the Panthers in this matchup is that, while they are a perfect 4-0 at home, they have yet to win a road test in five tries.
UTSA had been winners of two straight themselves after opening up December by defeating Texas-Pan American (72-65) and Huston-Tillotson (90-62), but it fell back to its losing ways on Wednesday with a 90-64 setback against Cal State Bakersfield. The Roadrunners are now 3-7 on the season, including just 2-4 at the Convocation Center.
The Roadrunners hold an 8-6 advantage over Georgia State in the all-time series, although the Panthers got the best of UTSA on Feb. 18, 2012, 82-71.
Although Georgia State endured 14 lead changes in its latest game versus Georgia Southern, it ultimately separated itself down the stretch to pull off the 12-point home victory thanks to an impressive .490 field goal percentage. Manny Atkins was the catalyst with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Ryan Harrow poured in 22 points while R.J. Hunter netted 16 points, and the backcourt duo combined to shoot 6-of-13 from beyond the arc.
On the season, the Panthers sport a solid offensive attack by shooting 46.4 percent from the floor for 75.9 points per game, but unfortunately their opponents are right on their heels with 72.9 points per game. Although they have a questionable defense, they are aided by an outstanding +4.3 turnover margin. Harrow scores 20.0 points per game on 47.6 percent field goal shooting, while Hunter (15.0 ppg) and Atkins (11.9 ppg) round out one of the Sun Belt's best scoring trios. Curtis Washington (8.6 ppg) is a difference- maker in the paint, registering 6.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game.
The Roadrunners put up a solid field goal shooting night in their latest contest (.465), but they never had a chance thanks to Bakersfield's red-hot performance, as it shot 58 percent from the field and a perfect 20-of-20 from the free-throw line. Pacing the losing effort was Keon Lewis with 17 points, although shot just 5-of-13 from the floor in the process. Jordan Sims added 16 points on 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, while Phillip Jones chipped in 13 points.
UTSA has established a similar theme this season, as its offensive attack (70.1 ppg) can't quite keep up with its opponents' (76.3 ppg). A big reason for its struggles has been its inability to take care of the basketball, as it commits 16.5 turnovers per game for a -4.3 takeaway margin. Lewis leads the way with 15.3 points per game and has been outstanding from the charity stripe (.857). Hyjii Thomas brings 13.3 points per game to the table, and Sims (10.4 ppg) has drained 26 of the team's 49 3-pointers.
Georgia State has performed poorly on the road, but UTSA hasn't defended its home floor well either during the first two months of the season. The Panthers are the more talented team in this one and should be able to power past the Roadrunners to move back to .500.
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