With the clock winding down Saturday afternoon, Ron Hunter called his son R.J. to the bench for the final time in the 2014-15 season. The coach stood from his stool and hugged his star, after what could be his final performance as a Georgia State Panther.
There was no magic from Hunter's hands against Xavier, no 3-point shot from the parking lot that sealed a win in the final moments. Hunter had even attempted one not too far from where that game-winning shot against Baylor was launched. It couldn't find purchase.
But that was how things seemed to go for Georgia State against the Musketeers. What had worked against Baylor didn't have the same effect against Xavier. And the Musketeers will be marching on to the Sweet 16 with a 75-67 win.
The Panthers seemed slow to adjust throughout the game. When Xavier went on a run early in the first half exploiting the Georgia State defense on the inside, the Panthers were slow to adjust. It required an 11-2 run just get back within spitting distance.
When Xavier went into a 1-3-1 zone before the end of the first half, it required multiple trips down the court before Georgia State could put their players in the proper position to get Ryan Harrow, and then Hunter open for 3-pointers.
When Xavier's Myles Davis found his sweet spot in front of the Xavier bench in the second half, a spot inside the coach's box that seemed magical for anyone who stood there, like a power up in the video game offense that the Musketeers were running, Georgia State didn't know how to adjust to stop him.
You could blame the stool, the inability for Ron to get closer to his players and give them direction. You could also imagine that Georgia State had finally run out of steam, and run into a team that could exploit their weakness inside.
The Musketeers shot 67.6 percent from the floor and went 7-for-13 from 3-point range. If they hadn't turned the ball over 14 times, including nine in the first half, Georgia State wouldn't have had the crowd believing that yet another comeback was possible.
It wasn't like Georgia State couldn't compete with the Musketeers on offense. The Panthers were 56.5 percent from the floor, and Hunter and Harrow combined to hit five 3-pointers. But even that is a symbol of the fragility of the Panthers at this point. Harrow didn't play in the second half, still tender from an injury, and even with Georgia State scoring 39 points after the break, the Musketeers were better.
Jalen Reynolds had a career night with 21 points. Myle Davis' five 3-pointers had the crowd roaring for every one of his 17 points.
The Xavier offense that was basically unstoppable all season kept rolling, and Georgia State struggled to find its way.
The Panthers still have a shot to repeat the magic next season, provided they can advance again from the Sun Belt conference. Hunter might forego the NBA, although he is currently projected by many as a late first round pick. That is a tough thing to give up, although we saw Doug McDermott make the same choice to play for his father one last time.
Markus Crider, Kevin Ware and T.J. Shipes are all back. That is enough to build around if Hunter is leading the charge.
It all depends on if Ron Hunter can do the best, and hardest recruiting job of his career to convince his own son to give him one more run. Given how well he has done getting the country on his side this NCAA Tournament, he has a pretty good shot.