Troy (5-7) at Georgia State (7-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 2, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: GSU Sports Arena (4,500) -- Atlanta, Georgia. Television: None. Home Record: Troy 5-0, GSU 4-0. Away Record: Troy 0-5, GSU 2-5. Neutral Record: Troy 0-2, GSU 1-1. Conference Record: Troy 0-0, GSU 0-0. Series Record: Georgia State leads, 13-10.
GAME NOTES: The Georgia State Panthers will play their first Sun Belt Conference game in more than 30 years on Thursday when they host the Troy Trojans at GSU Sports Arena.
Troy snapped a four-game losing streak on Saturday as it overcame a deficit to down NAIA foe Belhaven, 74-62. The victory improved the Trojans to a 5-7 overall record, but they are still winless after five true road tests. Coach Phil Cunningham's team has played very tough on the defensive end to rank second in the SBC in points allowed per game at 66.9, but it is netting only 66 ppg on the offensive end. The Trojans are one of the weakest teams on the glass in the league, averaging 3.2 less boards per outing than their opposition.
Georgia State closed out its non-conference slate with an impressive 89-82 decision at East Carolina on Sunday. The win was the fourth in a row for the Panthers, who have yet to be defeated at GSU Sports Arena this season. The Panthers will be playing their first SBC contest since the 1980-81 campaign. Under second-year head coach Ron Hunter, GSU is 26-10 on its home floor.
Georgia State and Troy will meet for the 24th time with the Panthers holding a 13-10 advantage in the series. The two schools squared off last season on Dec. 15, 2012. The Trojans edged GSU, 57-56, to narrow their deficit the all-time series in the most recent encounter.
The Trojans trailed Belhaven by double-digits in the first half, but outscored the Blazers, 42-27, in the second half to avoid being upset. Antoine Myers tied his career-high with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor while Jeff Mullahey posted 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the victory. Hunter Williams chipped in 12 points for Troy to notch his third double-figure scoring performance in the last four games. Myers is pacing the team on the campaign with 12 ppg. Kevin Thomas is a steady contributor for the Trojans with averages of 12 ppg and 8.1 rpg.
GSU's win over ECU was powered by the trio of Manny Atkins, Ryan Harrow and R.J. Hunter. Atkins recorded a double-double with a career-best 27 points and 12 rebounds to lead the way. Harrow nearly had a double-double of his own as he poured in 24 points and handed out nine assists and Hunter chipped in 22 points. Atkins is averaging 23.3 points and 10.7 rebounds in the last three games. Hunter is a proven 3-point threat and has already knocked down 41 attempts from beyond the arc, the 12th most in the nation. Hunter is also leading the SBC in free-throw percentage (86.5). Harrow, who is second in the league with a 2.6 assist-to-turnover ratio, is netting 20.2 ppg in his inaugural year with the program after scoring 9.9 ppg last season as a member of the Kentucky Wildcats.
The benefit of having homecourt advantage is usually even more evident once league play begins. The Trojans will have trouble slowing down GSU, especially if the Panthers' high-scoring trio continues to share the ball and play with such excellent chemistry. Troy's poor rebounding could really come back to haunt it in this one as it will struggle competing if it gives the high- scoring hosts any extra possessions.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia State 77, Troy 64
01/02 10:31:35 ET