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Georgia State ends Louisiana’s big streak, extends its own in blowout win

NCAA Basketball: Georgia State at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia State didn’t just end a massive conference winning streak.

The Panthers slammed it shut in a 106-92 win over Louisiana that snapped the Ragin’ Cajuns 10-0 start to Sun Belt play. It was almost as total a team effort at it can get for GSU, as the Panthers saw six players score in double figures.

This included a career-high 22 points from senior forward Jordan Session, along with big nights from Devin Mitchell (20 points) and Jeff Thomas (18 points). But the star of the show, as it often is with the Panthers, was sophomore guard D’Marcus Simonds, who was just shy of a triple double (22 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists).

The scoring bonanza might bury the biggest takeaway, as GSU is now riding a 10-game winning streak of its own, and pulled within a game of the Ragin’ Cajuns for the top spot in the regular season standings. And that race may truly be heating up, as Louisiana continues a difficult stretch with a trip to Georgia Southern on Saturday, followed by home games against second-tier contenders Texas State and UT Arlington.

As dominant as Louisiana has looked this season — each of their Sun Belt wins had been by double figures — the blast furnace of a trip to Atlanta illustrated how dangerous a team GSU can be in its own right.

After playing off the ball last year, Simonds has been developing as a primary ballhandler this season. He’s had issues with ball control (like a seven-turnover game in a close win over Texas State two weeks ago), and been shot happy at times throughout the year. But he turned it over just once against Louisiana, and created for teammates throughout the night against a tough Ragin’ Cajun defense. Efforts like that make the Panthers a real threat to take home both Sun Belt titles.

GSU also got another solid night from Mitchell, who was coming off a career-high 38 points (10-13 3FG) against Little Rock. Ron Hunter singled him out as a key to taking pressure off Simonds before the year.

The Ragin’ Cajuns — who came in holding league competition to just 60.3 points per game — must now deal with Georgia Southern’s talented backcourt on Saturday in their first taste of real adversity in league play. Their special season was not extinguished in Atlanta, but did hit its first speed bump.