Georgia State Basketball: No. 14 Panthers Open NCAA Tournament with No. 3 Baylor Thursday

March 17, 2015

Georgia State will depart for Jacksonville via bus at approximately 1:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday afternoon. Members of the media are welcome to stop by as the bus departs.

Game Notes attached

Quick Notes

* Georgia State returns to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001. The Panthers are 1-2 all-time in the tournament with their lone win coming against No. 6 Wisconsin in 2001, 50-49. Georgia State fell in the second round to No. 3 Maryland 79-60 as the Terrapins would advance to the Final Four. The Panthers only other trip to the NCAA tournament came in 1991 as a No. 16 seed.

* Georgia State’s Sun Belt tournament title is the third tournament title in program history with the previous two coming in 1991 and 2001.

* Georgia State won its second straight Sun Belt Conference regular season championship in just its second year back in the league. It marks the second time in school history that the Panthers have won back-to-back titles (2000-02).

* Kevin Ware was named Sun Belt tournament MVP following an 18-point performance in Georgia State’s 38-36 win over Georgia Southern in the tournament finale. R.J. Hunter and Markus Crider each were named to the all-tournament team.

* This is the second program head coach Ron Hunter has led to the NCAA tournament. Prior to coming to Georgia State he led IUPUI for 17 years, leading the Jaguars to the Big Dance in 2003.

* Following the Panthers Sun Belt tournament win, head coach Ron Hunter tore his Achillies but will still coach and be on the sidelines for the NCAA tournament and have surgery after the event.

* Georgia State is 46-12 in its last 58 games, including a 43-10 mark in regular season games.

* Georgia State’s 24-9 start is the third-best 33-game start in program history.

* Junior R.J. Hunter overtook Rodney Hamilton on Jan. 24 for the school’s all-time scoring mark of 1,515 points and now has 1,783 in his career.

* Georgia State held six straight opponents under 30 percent shooting, a streak that ended at UALR on Feb. 26. Opponents are shooting just 38.1 percent for the year again the Panthers, ranked No. 9 in the NCAA. According to Stats Inc., Georgia State is the first team in its database (since 1996-97) to record six-straight games of holding an opponent under 30 percent shooting. The only other team with a stretch of five is Kentucky this season. The Panthers have held 11 opponents under 30 percent this season.

* Georgia State has recorded two of the three biggest margin of victories in program history this year. The Panthers scored a school-record 60-point win over Tennessee Temple in the season opener and then recorded a 44-point win over Appalachian State on Feb. 21.

* R.J Hunter was a finalist for the 2015 Atlanta Sports Awards Collegiate Athlete of the Year presented by AT&T.

* Ryan Harrow was named the Atlanta Tipoff Club Georgia College Player of the Year. He will receive his award at a banquet on March 24.

* R.J.Hunter made 30 straight free throws before a miss on Feb. 14 (Hunter has school-record of 38) and has been nearly perfect the last month, making 98 of his last 103 attempts. Another streak of 25 straight came to an end at UL Monroe on Thursday. He went a school-record 16-of-16 from the line against Georgia Southern on March 7.

* Ryann Green was named one of 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award given to a student-athlete who best exemplify excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.

* Ryan Harrow was named to the Lou Henson Award Mid-Season Watch List as one of the top 40 mid-major players in the country.

* Head coach Ron Hunter picked up his 350th career win on Jan. 29 at UT Arlington.

* Under head coach Ron Hunter, the Panthers are 47-11 in the GSU Sports Arena, a winning percentage of 81.0.

* The Panthers have won 18 of their last 28 true road games dating back to last season.

* Georgia State has been has high as No. 39 in the NCAA RPI this season. The Panthers played five non-conference games against teams ranked in the top 60 and are currently No. 61.

* Georgia State’s four non-conference losses came to teams with a combined 100-29 record. Iowa State (25-8) has been ranked in the AP Top 25 all season, while Colorado State (27-6) and Old Dominion (24-7) have received votes. Green Bay (24-8) is ranked No. 11 in the Mid-Major Top 25. The Panthers scored a win over the Phoenix when they were ranked No. 1 in the NCAA RPI.

* R.J. Hunter and Ryan Harrow are combining to average 38.5 points per game, the fourth-most of any duo in the country. Both are ranked in the top 35 nationally in scoring.

* With 1,783 points, R.J. Hunter is the No. 1 active scorer in the NCAA of all third-year players and the only junior ranked in the top 40.

March 17, 2015
Contact: Mike Holmes
Phone: (404) 413-4033
No. 14 Georgia State Opens NCAA Tournament with No. 3 Baylor Thursday

ATLANTA-Georgia State will return to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 14 years on Thursday facing Baylor at Veteran’s Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. at 1:40 p.m. ET live on TBS. The Panthers will be looking to advance for the second-straight time when qualifying for the tournament.

Thursday’s contest can be heard live on WIFN-AM 1340 The Fan 3 with Dave Cohen, now in his 32nd year as the Voice of the Panthers, calling the action alongside Brandon Leak. Live statistics and live audio will be available for free at
Georgia State (24-9) earned a No. 14-seed by winning the Sun Belt Conference tournament following its second-straight regular season championship. The Panthers enter the NCAA tournament having won five-straight and nine-of-10 following a 38-36 win over Georgia Southern in the conference final on Sunday.

The victory did not lack some extra drama. During the initial postgame celebration, head coach Ron Hunter tore his Achilles and will coach Thursday in a hard-cast before seeing if surgery is required in the offseason. That was after leading scorer Ryan Harrow played only six minutes during the tournament while nursing a bruised hamstring.

The Panthers last qualified for the NCAA tournament in 2001 under former head coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell, earning a No. 11 seed and upsetting No. 6 Wisconsin 50-49 in the first round in Boise, Idaho. Georgia State led No. 3 Maryland midway through a second round match-up before falling 79-60. The Panthers only other appearance came in 1991 as a No. 16 seed.

Georgia State is 46-12 in their last 58 games dating back to last season. The 24 wins this season are the third-most in program history.

Baylor (24-9) enters the NCAA tournament as a No. 3 seed following a loss to Kansas in the Big XII tournament semifinals. The Bears are led by Rico Gathers who is averaging a double-double of 11.7 points and 11.6 rebounds per game.

Georgia State is holding opponents to just 38.1 percent shooting for the season, No. 9 in the NCAA. The Panthers have held 11 opponents under 30 percent shooting this season, second-most only to undefeated Kentucky.

The Panthers are led by the scoring duo of R.J. Hunter and Ryan Harrow. The pair repeated as All-Sun Belt First-Team honorees last week while Hunter was once again named Sun Belt Player of the Year, becoming the first Panther to accomplish earn the honor two years in a row. Following the Panthers run in New Orleans, Hunter was joined on the Sun Belt All-Tournament team by Markus Crider and tournament MVP Kevin Ware.

The pair are averaging 38.5 points per game, the fourth-most of any duo in the country. Hunter is currently averaging 19.8 points per game, 16th in the NCAA, while Harrow is adding 18.7 points per contest, ranked No. 34 in the nation. Both are looking to become the first Panther to average more than 20 points in a game for the first time since the 2001-02 season.

Hunter, who scored 32 points against UL Lafayette in the Sun Belt tournament semifinals has scored 1,783 career points in just 97 games, averaging 18.4 points per game. He is the NCAA career active leader in points scored, 3-pointers (248) and 3-point attempts (700) among all juniors. Hunter is also 10th among all active players in career scoring average.

Harrow became just the fourth Panther to earn multiple all-conference first-team selections after leading the Sun Belt in scoring most of the season and standing second in the league averaging 3.7 assists per game, shooting 50.4 percent from the floor, seventh in the Sun Belt. Working to overcome a hamstring injury, Harrow was limited to just six minutes in the Sun Belt tournament.

Ware earned tournament honors following an 18-point, five-rebound performance against Georgia Southern in the championship game. He returns to the NCAA tournament after helping Louisville win the 2013 national title. He, along with Harrow (Kentucky-2012) have national championship rings with their prior schools.

Georgia State has used a balanced attack of shooting well and defending equally well to win games this season. The Panthers are shooting 48.0 percent from the floor, ranked No. 17 in the NCAA, scoring 72.0 points per game and giving up just 62.2 per contest. Georgia State is also sixth in the NCAA averaging 9.1 steals per game and sixth in turnover margin at 4.5.

“In college basketball, this is what you play for,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “Our team is extremely proud to represent Georgia State, our alums, fans and students in the NCAA tournament, but we are also not going to be content to just be there. We will prepare hard all week for a very good Baylor team and then see how the chips fall.”

* Markus Crider has recorded three double-doubles this season and scored a career-high 21 points against South Alabama. He is averaging 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game for the season, shooting 60.1 percent from the floor, second-best in the Sun Belt.

* Senior Ryann Green has been a part of a school-record 86 wins in his career. It is the most wins of any four-year stretch in program history.

* Kevin Ware, a redshirt-junior, is fourth on the team averaging 7.7 points per game. He is also seventh in the Sun Belt averaging 1.7 steals per contest.

* Despite only his second year at Georgia State, senior Curtis Washington has already moved into fourth-place on the school’s all-time blocked shots list with 121.

* Isaiah Dennis scored a career-high 10 points in the Sun Belt semifinals against UL Lafayette, going 5-of-8 from the floor in 18 minutes of action.

With a win on Thursday, Georgia State will advance to the third round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday and face the winner of No. 6 Xavier vs. No. 11 BYU/Ole Miss.

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