PANTHER PROWL: Men’s basketball team wins eight straight

When Ron Hunter left IUPUI to come to Georgia State, he inherited a program that had never lived up to expectations and had a losing atmosphere surrounding it. The Panthers stumbled out of the gate to an 0-3 start at the World Vision Classic in Seattle, Washington, and it appeared as if the transition for Coach Hunter and the team would be slow at best. Fast forward to today and the Panthers have rattled off eight consecutive victories including Saturday’s 71-68 road win at Utah Valley. During this winning streak the Panthers have dominated opponents, winning by an average of 20.3 points per game, including back-to-back 32-point home victories over conference foes William and Mary and Rhode Island. State has been led by sophomore guard Devonta White (Centennial HS) and two seniors, forward Eric Buckner and guard Jihad Ali (M.L. King HS). Each of these three players averages over 11 points per game, and they all have been key for the Panthers on both the offensive and defensive ends. Ali and Buckner each pull down close to six rebounds per game while White dishes out nearly 4 dimes a contest. The streak has tied the longest in school history, and the Panthers will look to continue their winning ways against rival Georgia Southern in the all GSU battle this Thursday night at the Sports Arena. This matchup will be the final game before State jumps into Colonial Athletic Association conference play, starting with a home game against Drexel on Jan. 2. The Panthers hope to be yet another CAA success story, as over the last five years the conference has produced a number of high quality teams that have succeeded in the NCAA tournament. The most notable examples would be George Mason’s run to the Final Four in 2006 and Virginia Commonwealth’s run last year. Old Dominion has also tasted success in the NCAA tournament recently. The CAA conference schedule will provide the Panthers with some tough tests including back-to-back road games at VCU and at George Mason Jan. 4 and Jan. 7. If State can rise to the occasion in conference play, the Panthers have a great chance at making it all the way to the Big Dance in March.

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