Panthers Finish Strong, Notch Non-Conference Win at Charlotte
Photo: Jordan Crawford for THERSdayNight.com
Georgia State (3-1) used a 10-0 run late in the second half to take control on the road against Charlotte (0-2), winning 76-65 for their first win at Charlotte as a program. The Panthers clamped down on defense in the second half, allowing just 26% shooting and forcing nine 49er turnovers. Kane Williams led the Panthers with 18 points and 4 of the team’s 19 assists on the night. Georgia transfer JoJo Toppin had his best game to date in blue and white, scoring 16 (on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting and 6-of-6 from the free throw line) and racking up three steals and a block. Corey Allen had 14 points, including four made threes. Jahmir Young led Charlotte with 20 points.
Coming in and facing a Charlotte team he described as “a good team that runs a really sophisticated offense,” Georgia State head coach Rob Lanier said the message to his team ahead of tonight’s game was that they “were going to have to put out a sustained and concentrated defensive effort.” He went on, “We were able to do that and we shared the ball more. The Mercer game, we really beat ourselves, with our shot selection and our decisions and our turnovers. But tonight, we looked more like a team and that feels good.”
A Jhery Matos jumper which made it a 57-55 Charlotte lead with 6:12 to go would be the 49ers’ last made field goal of the evening. At the other end, the Panthers’ shooting got hot at the right time. Corey Allen and Kane Williams made three-pointers on consecutive possessions to restore the Georgia State lead, and after Williams’ made it 61-59, Toppin added a putback and Allen hit another triple to give the Panthers’ their largest lead of the night at 66-59. The Georgia State defense continued to lock down the 49ers and they put the game away from the free throw line.
For the second straight game, the trend of a slow start from Georgia State in the first half continued, as the Panthers struggled to 37% shooting and 5-of-15 from 3. Meanwhile, Charlotte managed 50% from the floor and an efficient 4-of-9 from deep in the game’s first 20 minutes. The lead ping-ponged between the teams through the first half. An Evan Johnson three-pointer put Georgia State on top 26-25 with 4:17 until the break, but Charlotte closed out the half strong on a 11-6 run and took a 36-32 lead into the locker room.
Kane Williams made history with his first basket of the game, becoming the 23rd Panther in program history to score 1,000 career points. On his senior guard, Coach Lanier said, “I think Kane has the potential to be a great leader and I have trust in him. I want him to believe in what we’re doing, and I think our relationship as a staff and my relationship with him personally as his coach, you can feel that growth there.”
On JoJo Toppin’s strong performance, Coach Lanier praised the redshirt sophomore for “trusting us [the coaching staff] and our message” as it relates to his development as a player, in particular mentioning how he was “simplifying his game, knowing what his strengths are and trying to be great inside of those qualities.” Coach Lanier added, “He did that tonight. He’s obviously a tremendous athlete and he played a game where you could really see how his athleticism can have an effect on the game, so I’m really proud of him.”
The Panthers are now idle until December 16, when they host Mercer in the second part of the schools’ home-and-home series in 2020. Mercer won the first matchup in Macon, 86-69, so Georgia State will be looking for revenge when the ball tips at the Sports Arena at 6pm EST.