Georgia State awaits Baylor following dramatic Sun Belt title


For the first time since 2001, the Georgia State Panthers (24-9) are back in the big dance thanks to defeating Georgia Southern for the second time–this time in the Sun Belt Championship, 38-36. It was an ugly game, but the Panthers were able to hit enough shots and suffocate the Eagles into just 22.9 percent shooting to eke out the victory. R.J. Hunter, who had exploded for a combined 67 points in his last two games since Ryan Harrow went down with a hamstring strain, struggled to find his shot. Hunter finished just 3-15 with nine points. It was Louisville transfer Kevin Ware who stepped up big in his 39 minutes of action. The junior who was named Tournament MVP finished with a game-high 18 points.

Coach Ron Hunter said postgame, “I’m really proud of my kids. The first thing I told them before the game, absolutely nothing has come easy for us this year: from injuries, then we end up with an injury, to what Kevin Ware has gone through. Everywhere we go, there have been great crowds and people taking us out. We sat there after the Little Rock game after we lost and everyone thought we wouldn’t get the #1 seed. I’m grateful for these guys because it was a struggle, but it’s supposed to be a struggle. I’m proud of these guys. They’re the most resilient group of kids I’ve ever coached in my life.”

Ron Hunter, who was frantically trying to run on the court to celebrate with his players and more importantly his son, came up lame and tore his achilles in the celebration. Hunter had to get helped off the court and immediately had ice and later a cast placed on his leg. “I tore my Achilles on the right side years ago playing basketball,” Hunter said. “This was the exact same feeling and I knew when I jumped up … I knew when I came down that I had done it (again), but instead of stopping right there, I wanted to go celebrate with my team. More importantly I wanted to go celebrate with my son. You don’t get many opportunities like that.”

The No. 14 Panthers meet the No. 3 Baylor Bears (24-9) at 1:40 P.M. on TBS this Thursday in Jacksonville. The last time GSU made the tournament, it upset Wisconsin 50-49 in round one.

Tags: , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply