In a forgettable game for the Georgia Southern faithful, dreams of a regular-season SunBelt title were squashed inside the GSU Sports Arena.
Georgia State jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the opening minutes and never looked back. The Panthers led 32-21 at the half and the deficit only increased from there.
RJ Hunter had a career game as he finished with 35 points. Elsewhere, Curtis Washington poured in 12 as the Panthers pulled away to claim the victory.
Southern looked to make it a game early in the second half on the strength of two threes that made it 34-38. That lasted long enough for State to score seven unanswered.
Aside from the game, the big story may end up being the injury to State star Ryan Harrow, who went down with an ankle injury at the 7:53 mark of the first half. After limping off the court and putting no weight on his left leg, he incredibly returned at the 4:38 mark as the crowd erupted. But with the leg clearly hurting him Harrow went back to the bench not long after. Hopefully it was just a minor injury.
The good news for Southern fans is the all-important conference tournament, with the promise of a ticket to the Big Dance, is still ahead. Both teams will have byes through to the semifinals and could very well meet for a third time in the tournament final.
If that does happen, the Eagles will need to find a way to play more physically inside the paint. The Panthers either have a bigger team or made it feel like they had a bigger team as they dominated the inside game in both halves.
See you in NOLA.
State didn't resort to a cash drop in the sold-out arena, but did roll a drummer out on the court with flaming drumsticks.
Yes the drum stick r on fire pic.twitter.com/RH7gL9BCUH— Haisten Willis (@HaistenWillis) March 7, 2015
@HaistenWillis So...Ga State is Hot...Hot...Hot— Georgia Southern Guy (@GaSouthernGuy) March 7, 2015
I'm not gonna lie though. The atmosphere for the game was outstanding. My ears are ringing even as I write this. I sat about three inches in front of the State student section, and might regret it should I live to be 85. Granted, the crowd was 400 stronger than it was for State's football season finale, but there's no way TV cameras pass on this matchup next year.