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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 12, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Gymnasium (14,316) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: GSU 1-0, Vanderbilt 0-0. Away Record: GSU 0-0, Vanderbilt 0-0. Neutral Record: GSU 0-0, Vanderbilt 0-0. Conference Record: GSU 0-0, Vanderbilt 0-0. Series Record: Vanderbilt leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: After being left out of a busy college basketball tip-off weekend, the Vanderbilt Commodores will finally begin their 2013-14 campaign on Tuesday night when they host the Georgia State Panthers.
Although it finished just 15-16 last season, Georgia State comes into the new campaign as one of the favorites in the Sun Belt Conference thanks to the return of several keys players and the addition of high-profile transfer Ryan Harrow from Kentucky. The Panthers got their season started on the right foot this past Saturday against Southern Poly, winning easily in a 97-78 final.
Only a year removed from a their first SEC Tournament championship in 50 years, the Commodores endured a setback in 2012-13 by going just 16-17 and thus missing out on their third consecutive trip to the Big Dance. It was only Kevin Stallings' second losing season since taking over the program in 1999, and with a depleted roster in a strong SEC, it appears as though a similar fate could be in store this season.
In the only previous meeting between the teams, Vanderbilt defeated Georgia State at home on Dec. 27, 1979, 65-53.
Georgia State was not only fortunate to land Harrow (9.9 ppg in 2012-13), but to have him cleared to play this season, and he paid immediate dividends in the opener by tallying 20 points on 8-of-13 from the field, while also handing out six assists. Harrow's fantastic debut was overshadowed, however, by the play of R.J. Hunter, who posted 27 points (5-of-11 from 3-point range), seven rebounds and four assists. Devonta White (14 points, five assists) and Manny Atkins (13 points, nine rebounds) were also impressive in the Panthers' highest scoring game since 2007. GSU expects to have balanced efforts like that more often than not. In addition to Harrow, Hunter (17.0 ppg), White (14.8 ppg) and Atkins (14.2 ppg) all established themselves as potent scoring threats last season. Atkins (6.7 rpg) and Hunter (5.1 rpg) are expected to be active on the glass once again, and White (3.9 apg) is slated to be the floor general.
If the Commodores want return to relevancy this season, they'll need to do so without last season's top scorer Kedren Johnson (13.5 ppg, 3.6 apg). A pair of senior leaders will be expected to shoulder the load in 2013-14, with Rod Odom (10.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg) patrolling the paint while Kyle Fuller (8.7 ppg) brings a shooter's touch to the perimeter. Sophomore Eric McClellan, who sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules, put up 8.5 points per game for Tulsa in 2011-12 and will be a welcomed addition for a squad in desperate need of scorers. In Vanderbilt's exhibition contest -- in which it narrowly defeated Alabama-Huntsville (66-60) -- McClellan poured in 20 points, and James Siakam (six rebounds) started at forward after making only one start a season ago.
Vanderbilt will have a slight advantage playing in front of an eager home crowd, but that will only go so far as it appears to be inferior to Georgia State at the moment. The Panthers' deep stable of scorers will lead them to an impressive road victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia State 75, Vanderbilt 67
11/12 10:34:32 ET
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