APP STATE vs. GEORGIA STATE GAME PREVIEW

Appalachian State takes the floor at Georgia State fresh off their best scoring output in six games which also came in their fifth Sun Belt loss. So far in league play when App State has played effective defense their offense has stalled. Then, despite 88 points at Georgia Southern the defense was porous off the dribble late. Now, there’s another game and another chance for that elusive road win.

Just six more days and Appalachian State will finally play a home game again, after a 19-day hiatus from the Holmes. But before they taste home-cooking again the Mountaineers square off against Georgia State, with the Panthers riding a three-game winning streak.

App State continues a season-long streak of their own – Appalachian plays their guts out. They’ve played hard for 17 games now. Their 6-11 record is not due to a lack of effort.

Still, the ability to put their offense, defense, and intangibles – read, luck – simply hasn’t come together this season often enough. Just once in league play, in fact. But, even the loss at Georgia Southern felt like any of the other five defeats.

If only Appalachian could [insert missing element here] they could’ve won that game. Is this the night where that answer is actually put into place?

Georgia STATE PANTHERS

Jeremey Hollowell: One-time Indiana transfer hit App for 14 points per game last season and is averaging 19 a game in conference play. Hollowell is a versatile big man who’s almost as likely to take it outside and shoot from the arc as work it down low. Hollowell is also foul prone and App has to attack him defensively to force him to work on both ends and maybe force foul trouble.

D’Marcus Simonds: True freshman is very efficient offensively (53% shooting) and putting up 10.0 per game. Simonds is a reluctant three-point shooter (just 18% of his attempts), so prepare to guard him off the dribble. Just play him to his mid-range game and, like Hollowell, force him to defend. Georgia State is allowing 75 points per game.

Malik Benlevi: Effective swingman who shoots 53% from the floor and 44% from the arc. Benlevi is a quick and physical 6’5”, which has historically been a tough check for App defensively. Benlevi is also a very effective defender leading the Panthers in steals and blocks, and he probably pulls duty on Ronshad Shabazz.

Isaiah Williams: Williams is the point guard and he does it well, with a 2.3:1 assist to turnover ratio. He’s also an effective shooter (42% overall, 40% from three) but only takes around six or so shots per game. Even more important is keeping Williams from driving at will and creating opportunities for others when help defense converges.

Willie Clayton: BIG fifth-year senior transferred in from Charlotte, where he once scored 12 points on 6-6 shooting and had eight rebounds against App State. He shoots 62% from the floor but takes less than five shots per game. Where Clayton hurts you is on the glass, where he averages over eight boards per game and 40% of those are offensive.

Dennis/Donaldson/Mitchell/Seymour/Thomas: Georgia State runs a consistent 11-man rotation, including this guard quintet. Thomas, Mitchell, and Seymour are the three-point shooting threats, while Dennis and Donaldson are more point guard catalysts than scorers. The Panthers just run bodies at you so they can play up-tempo and wear opponents down.

APP STATE MOUNTAINEERS

Ronshad Shabazz: Shabazz liked him some Panthers last season, averaging 21.5 per game on 46% shooting. This would be an ideal time for Shabazz to back up a career game (36) with another 20-plus performance. Georgia State is not known for defense, so Shabazz should continue his success against them but how much help will he have?

Emarius Logan: Logan is on a three-game streak of double-figure scoring (13.3 per game) and when E is scoring it makes everything run more effectively. In App’s six wins he’s averaging nearly 13 points a game and just under six in the losses. In an interesting twist, with Kelvin Robinson out Logan has averaged 14.0 points per game.

Griffin Kinney: Kinney’s game at Georgia Southern was his least productive statistically in Sun Belt play. He had five points and four rebounds in 22 minutes, but with Southern running four guards frequently it just wasn’t the right match-up. He has never scored in double-figures against the Panthers but Kinney’s game has expanded this season.

Tyrell Johnson: It was back down to a shaky performance offensively for Johnson at Georgia Southern. Four points on 2-6 from the floor as he struggled to catch the ball and gather himself to finish effectively. Johnson did grab six rebounds in the loss but Appalachian could use his production in attacking Hollowell in the paint.

Isaac Johnson: Even when scoring is not in the cards you can count on Johnson to hit the glass. He currently sits tied for 7th in the Sun Belt in rebounds per game in conference play (7.3). Johnson’s activity level is second to none, and his attacking mentality on offense is just what App needs against Hollowell and Georgia State.

Patrick Good: For just the third game this season Good was held scoreless at Georgia Southern. Still, he has responded to those games incredibly well to date, averaging 17 points per game on 58% shooting in bounce-back games. With the Panthers’ scoring power a designated shooter like Good can be the difference-maker.

Craig Hinton/Jake Babic: Hinton and Babic combined for 20 points with four three-pointers. Hinton looks more comfortable with each outing and has scored a little over 40% of this season’s points in the last three games alone. Babic went nuclear at the end of the Southern game, with 11 points in 6:25. Both will have to produce on each end of the floor for App to upset GSU.

GAME ANALYSIS

Same old, same old;

- Guard the Arc: Georgia State averages 26 three-point attempts per game in conference play and they make 9-10 per game.

- Take Care of the Ball: The Panthers force the fifth most turnovers in the league and App State can’t afford to give possessions away to a team that scores like GSU.

- Work the Ball Inside: Even though Appalachian struggled to convert inside against Georgia Southern they did force foul trouble on their only physical post player. Hollowell has fouled out six times in 18 games, so go at him.

- Make Some Shots: Yeah, it seems elementary, but Appalachian was both bad (38% in the first half) and solid (48% in the second) at Georgia Southern. Can they string both halves together effectively in Atlanta?

It has to come together and, more importantly, stay together for more than a 5:00-6:00 burst or even more than a half. It needs to happen in Atlanta. Even with a home weekend approaching, App State doesn’t want to return to Boone 1-6 in the Sun Belt.

APP STATE 78 – GEORGIA STATE 75


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