Georgia State (21-7) at Texas State (8-20)
GAME NOTES: After clinching the Sun Belt Conference regular-season title earlier in the week, the Georgia State Bulldogs will continue their three-game road trip on Saturday afternoon when they tangle with the Texas State Bobcats at Strahan Coliseum.
GSU clinched at least a share of the league title on Thursday following a 77-49 win at Texas-Arlington and would win it outright and earn the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament with a victory in any of its last three matchups. The Panthers, winners of four straight, are now 14-1 in Sun Belt action, 21-7 overall and 8-6 on the road.
Texas State, meanwhile, is situated near the bottom of the league standings at just 4-11. The Bobcats have lost five of their last six contests to slip to 8-20 overall, most recently blowing a double-digit second-half lead to Western Kentucky on Thursday to fall in a 51-50 heartbreaker.
The teams met less than two weeks ago, with GSU winning in dominant fashion at home on Feb. 17, 68-41. Texas State still holds a 2-1 advantage in the all- time series.
It would be tough to gauge just by looking at the final score, but GSU had a tough time with UTA for much of its latest bout, as it battled through nine ties and 13 lead changes and actually went into intermission trailing by five, but it outshot the Mavericks from the field in the second half, 59.3 percent to 25 percent, as it surged ahead late for the 28-point victory. Manny Atkins tied a career-high with 27 points, shooting 5-of-11 from 3-point range and 6- of-6 at the free-throw line. Ryan Harrow added 15 points, and Markus Crider and Devonta White netted 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The Panthers have grown accustomed to stellar well-rounded efforts this season, as they shoot 47.7 percent from the field for 78.7 ppg while allowing just 69.2 ppg on 42.6 percent shooting, and it also has a turnover margin (+5.6) that ranks fifth-best nationally. R.J Hunter has been outstanding from 3-point range (.410) and the free-throw line (.878) on his way to 18.8 ppg. Harrow pours in 17.2 ppg while also finding time to hand out 4.6 apg, while Atkins (14.4 ppg), White (11.5 ppg, 4.5 apg) and Curtis Washington (7.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.3 bpg) round out the impressive starting five.
The Bobcats appeared in control of their matchup earlier in the week with a 12-point lead midway through the second half, but they fell victim to a 20-7 run by WKU later in the frame, which proved to be the decisive blow in the one-point loss. They shot a mere 35 percent from the field on the evening, including just 1-of-11 from 3-point range, and only had a chance to win thanks to their solid free-throw shooting performance (21-of-29). Joel Wright finished with a game-high 15 points but shot just 3-of-11 from the field, while Emani Gant came off the bench to score 10.
The good news for Texas State this season is that is has played sound defense, as it has allowed just 65.9 ppg, but the bad news has come on the other end of the floor, where it pours in a lowly 62.3 ppg. Wright is the catalyst with 14.9 ppg and 6.2 rpg, but he commits four turnovers per contest compared to just 1.6 apg. Gant nets 9.4 ppg with a great field-goal percentage (.571).
Texas State's homecourt advantage hasn't amounted to much this season (5-8), and expect another underwhelming performance in this one against the conference champs.
GAME NOTES: After clinching the Sun Belt Conference regular-season title
earlier in the week, the Georgia State Bulldogs will continue their three-game
road trip on Saturday afternoon when they tangle with the Texas State Bobcats
at Strahan Coliseum.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: Strahan Coliseum (7,200) -- San Marcos, Texas.
Television: None. Home Record: GSU 12-0, TXST 5-8. Away Record: GSU 8-6, TXST
1-11. Neutral Record: GSU 1-1, TXST 2-1. Conference Record: GSU 14-1, TXST
4-11. Series Record: Texas State leads, 2-1.Game Date and Time
Saturday, March 1, 5:30 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
Georgia State 76, Texas State 58