At least Appalachian State is playing at home again, since they will have played the top three Sun Belt leaders in four games. Up first is Georgia State at 9-2 in conference play, also 9-2 at home this season but just 5-5 on the road.
In the first game, Appalachian trailed just 30-27 with only 2:36 remaining until halftime at Georgia State, but was outscored 27-11 during the next 8:33 spanning across halftime. From there, trailing by 20, App State outscored the Panthers 35-26, meaning that App outscored GSU 62-56 for all but that 8:33 stretch.
13 first-half turnovers contributed heavily to too many run-out offensive opportunities for Georgia State and a 30-10 Panther advantage in the paint that half. For the game, Appalachian point guards combined to go 0-6 from the floor with three assists and eight turnovers.
Defensively, while Appalachian did an excellent job of containing Jeremy Hollowell (9 points/4 rebounds), freshman D’Marcus Simonds ripped the Mountaineers for 25 points (all from inside the arc and at the free-throw line).
Despite 40 second-half points offensively, App State allowed 44 points and Georgia State shot 57% in the half and for the game.
Tyrell Johnson had a career game in his Atlanta homecoming, with 22 points on 6-8 from the floor and 10-11 at the free-throw line, and Ronshad Shabazz added 18 on the night. The two carried the Mountaineer offense early, with 27 of the Mountaineers’ 32 first-half points.
In the second-half, Griffin Kinney and Pat Good jumped in with 12 points apiece, as Shabazz was the focus of constant double-teams.
All four will need to produce if Appalachian is to score enough points to keep pace with a Georgia State team averaging nearly 79 points per game in conference play. But, that will require better performance at the point from the Mountaineers, especially with App’s Kelvin Robinson missing another game due to injury.
And, defense would be a nice addition this time around. The really scary thing about Georgia State’s 57% shooting performance from the floor in Atlanta is that they went 3-14 from the three-point line. Yep, that means the Panthers shot 68% (30-44) inside the arc. It just can’t be that easy, ever.
Georgia State comes in winners of eight in a row. Simonds has scored 19 points or more in five of the past seven games.
App State hasn’t won a game in four weeks.
Still, the Mountaineers have had Georgia State’s number in Boone. It’s been so long ago that Mountaineer faithful might forget that App State was once 6-9 this season, and that was with three road games against Tennessee, Duke and NC State. Now at home for only the third time in eight games, can Appalachian rediscover their early-season success?
GEORGIA STATE 76 – APP STATE 70