McNeese State (1-2) vs. Georgia State (1-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 18, 5:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Coleman Coliseum (15,316) -- Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: McNeese 1-0, GSU 1-0. Away Record: McNeese 0-2, GSU 0-1. Neutral Record: McNeese 0-0, GSU 0-0. Conference Record: McNeese 0-0, GSU 0-0. Series Record: McNeese State leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: The South Regional of the NIT Season Tip-Off starts on Monday evening at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as the Georgia State Panthers take on the McNeese State Cowboys.
South Regional action also features a bout between Stillman College and host Alabama. The two winners will meet on Tuesday for the right to advance to the semifinal round, while the losers play one another in a consolation matchup.
McNeese State, which plays its basketball out of the Southland Conference, played its first two contests on the road, dropping a 98-56 decision at nationally-ranked Michigan State in the opener, before suffering a 92-66 defeat at Louisiana a few days later. The Cowboys tallied their first win on Friday night at home over Louisiana College, 92-83.
Georgia State, one of the favorites in the Sun Belt Conference this season, has split its first two games. After claiming a 97-78 win in their opener at home versus Southern Poly, the Panthers traveled to Vanderbilt and fought hard before falling to the Commodores in an 86-80 final.
McNeese State holds a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series with Georgia State, although the Panthers won the last meeting, 69-50, in November of 2011.
After struggling in their first two games, the Cowboys bounced back with a strong effort in their win over Louisiana College, as they shot 52.8 percent from the field and made the most of their busy night at the free-throw line (31-of-40). Pacing five players in double figures was Ledrick Eackles with 19 points. Eackles was off the mark from the field (2-of-12), but he made all 14 of his tries at the charity stripe. Adrian Fields netted 18 points, Kevin Hardy had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Craig McFerrin and Austin Lewis scored 13 and 11 points, respectively. The well-rounded performance was a welcomed sign for McNeese State, which is shooting just 36.4 percent from the field this season while being outscored by nearly 20 points per outing. Eackles (15.0 ppg) is only 10-of-43 from the floor (.233), Fields puts up 14.3 points per game, and Hardy (10.3 ppg, 9.7 rpg) is a nightly double-double threat.
In a game that featured 10 ties and 16 lead changes, Georgia State held a one- point lead with under four minutes to play against Vanderbilt, but lost control down the stretch on the way to a six-point road loss. Ryan Harrow did all he could to lift the Panthers to victory, shooting 10-of-21 from the floor for a career-high 27 points. R.J. Hunter was also outstanding with 21 points, Curtis Washington tallied 13 points, nine rebounds and four blocks, and Devonta White chipped in with 11 points and five assists. GSU's preseason scoring expectations have lived up to the hype here in the early going, as it nets 88.5 points per game on nearly 45 percent efficiency from the field. Harrow (23.5 ppg), a former Kentucky Wildcat, will be given every opportunity to be one of the conference's best scorers, although it's Hunter (24.0 ppg) who leads the team after two games. White is a strong third option with 12.5 points per tilt, and Washington (9.5 ppg) has been an imposing presence in the paint with 8.0 rebounds and 6.5 blocks per game.
Although Georgia State couldn't hold on against Vanderbilt, McNeese State doesn't pose nearly as big a threat. Expect the Panthers' talented scorers to make easy work of the Cowboys in this one to advance to the regional final.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia State 93, McNeese State 70
11/18 10:32:46 ET