Panthers Go Up Big Early, Hang on to Win Sun Belt East

Panthers Go Up Big Early, Hang On to Win Sun Belt East


Kane Williams dribbles the ball up the court in a home game during the 2019-2020 season. Photo: Jordan Crawford for

For the second day in a row, Georgia State (14-5, 8-4 in Sun Belt) used a blistering offensive pace and held off a late South Alabama (16-10, 10-7 in Sun Belt) run to win 82-73 en route to their 6th straight win and clinch the Sun Belt East Division title.  The second half felt closer than the final score would indicate as the Jaguars cut a 19-point Georgia State lead down to seven with a minute left. Georgia State wouldn’t falter as Corey Allen hit 4 straight free throws to keep the Jaguars at bay and keep the game out of their reach. 

The Panthers got contributions from a host of players, as all 5 starters scored in double figures. Jalen Thomas and Justin Roberts led the way both scoring 16 points, with Thomas securing his 1st career double-double – bringing down 12 rebounds. Corey Allen added 15 points on 3-for-8 shooting from downtown. Kane Williams scored 13 points, and Eliel Nsoseme was one rebound away from another double-double as he finished with 10 points and 9 rebounds. 

South Alabama got 30 points from fifth-year senior John Pettway, who was one of three Jaguars to finish in double figures. Jamal West had 14 points and 5 rebounds and senior Michael Flowers added 12 points and 5 assists in the loss. South Alabama was better in the second half after shooting only 17% from distance in the first half and 38% from the floor. The Jaguars improved those numbers in the second half to 30% and 50% respectively. 

The Panthers started the game off strong, showing no signs of having played a shootout with the Jaguars less than 24 hours prior. Allen and Nsoseme hit two quick shots to give the Panthers the early 4-0 lead, and Georgia State would find themselves up 10-4 after the opening five minutes. South Alabama would punch back and tie the game at 17 five minutes later, led by Pettway and a few Georgia State turnovers. From then on, the Panthers would go on a 23-14 run to close the half with Thomas hitting a slew of his free throw line jumpers. Georgia State went into halftime with an 11-point lead – despite only hitting two three-pointers and taking only three free throws in the entire first half. 

With this win, the Panthers clinch a 1-seed and a first-round bye in the Sun Belt tournament, which starts on March 5th. Their potential opponents will be announced in the coming days. 

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