The Georgia State men’s basketball team won its eighth consecutive game with a 71-68 victory over Utah Valley on Saturday. The mark ties a record set by by the 2000-01 team, the last Panthers team to make it to the NCAA tournament.
Georgia State (8-3) will get a chance to set a new record when it hosts Georgia Southern on Thursday.
The Panthers were led by Devonta White and Jihad Ali, who combined to score 33 points. Ali’s steal in the final seconds secured the win.
A few quick takeaways from the game:
The Panthers thought Utah Valley might be a tough place to play because of the altitude and the fact they would be facing unknown officials. The Panthers fell behind by nine in the first half but used a 10-0 run to take a halftime lead. That seems like a good sign. The team could have collapsed at that point in the first half, but come back. Hunter said earlier in the week that he has had a sense that the team seems like its waiting on for its bubble to burst. They were called for 22 fouls, compared to Utah Valley’s 20, but they didn’t get rattled.
The team stayed disciplined. Two players key to Georgia State’s defense — James Fields and Eric Buckner — picked up their fourth fouls with a lot of time remaining. However, neither picked up another. The aggressiveness was still there: Utah Valley hit 38.9 percent of its shots. The Panthers also forced 17 turnovers.
The offense is coming around. Hunter said after the win against Rhode Island that he thought the team was finally starting to play offense the way he wants them to. Though they didn’t score 96 points again, they did surpass 70 in a tough place on 49-percent shooting.
Free throws….The free-throw shooting was bad, though. The Panthers hit just 16 of their 28 attempts. Fields, White and Ali each missed their second attempt in the final minute when Utah Valley was fouling to try to claw its way back.
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu.