Georgia State’s men’s basketball team (0-1) will take on BYU (1-0) in Provo at 9 p.m. tonight.
Panthers coach Ron Hunter has seemed almost as excited about playing this game as he was about playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium, where his team was beaten by Duke in the season-opener.
“There will be 19,000 people there,” he said.
“I wanted to throw my kids into two of the hardest places to play in the country, at Duke and at BYU. After we get through with this, there’s not going to be anything my kids can’t fight through.”
Here are three things the Panthers need to do to beat the Cougars:
1. Find ways to get Hunter open. R.J. Hunter scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against the Blue Devils. But he had a difficult time getting open for shots. While not a surprise that Duke focused on stopped him in the half-court and Devonta White in the open court, it was surprising that they were so effective. The Panthers will likely keep seeing the same types of defenses (though perhaps not as effective) until they prove they can beat them. BYU’s defense limited Tennessee State to 33.8 percent shooting in its 81-66 victory.
2. Get Atkins and Richardson involved. Manny Atkins and Rashaad Richardson struggled in the opener. While Richardson got just three shots (making none), Atkins got nine (missing seven). Richardson is a capable outside shooter who is working on attacking the basket, Atkins’ game is more of a mix. The offense needs them to help spread the floor for White and Hunter. The Panthers had just four assists against Duke, coupled with 16 turnovers.
3. Keep up the defense. The Panthers’ defense played surprisingly well in the first half against Duke. I say surprising because there were six players who saw time who didn’t play last year and Hunter’s defenses are complicated. The Panthers held the Devils to 45 percent shooting in the first half (it was much lower before the final five minutes of the half). Rebounding, a concern before the season, wasn’t a problem. Georgia State outrebounded Duke 33-31.
The Cougars shot 54.5 percent against Tennessee State.