3 thoughts after Georgia State wins its exhibition finale

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Georgia State head basketball coach Ron Huner. (Doug Roberson / AJC)

The Georgia State men’s basketball team defeated Shorter 89-58 in its final exhibition game on Monday at the Sports Arena. The team will open the regular season hosting Tennessee Temple on Friday.

Previewing the game, I wrote about R.J. Hunter’s shooting, the team’s defense and rebounding, and the starting five.

Let’s review, shall we?

Rebounding and defense. The Panthers were much better in both areas than they were in their opening exhibition win against Georgia College, which outrebounded Georgia State 35-32 and hit 10 of its 25 3-pointers. Against Shorter, the Panthers outrebounded their foe 41-33 and limited them to 37.9-percent shooting, including just 4 of 17 3-point attempts. In addition to better rebounding, the Panthers maintained their ability to force and convert turnovers (24) into points (27).

Hunter’s shooting. After missing all eight of his 3-point attempts against Georgia College, eyes were on Georgia State’s leading scorer Monday. He again struggled, hitting just one of six 3-pointers, but still finished with 20 points. The other parts of his game didn’t suffer, either. He led the team with 10 rebounds and added six assists and a team-high four steals. Ron Hunter said fans shouldn’t worry because his son has never started the season shooting well. R.J. Hunter said he’s just trying to find his rhythm and felt he was forcing his shots. The problem for opposing defenses is if they focus too much on R.J. Hunter, Ryan Harrow will carve them up with drives and he did so again, finishing with a team-high 21 points off a variety of layups, running jumpers and long jumpers. As a team, the Panthers hit 54.5 percent of their shots.

The starting five. I wondered who Ron Hunter would start. I got four out of five correct (the easy four) and badly missed on Jalen Brown starting. Instead, Hunter started Markus Crider and he delivered with 16 points and seven rebounds. T.J. Shipes, who started alongside Crider in the first exhibition game, finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. Though still not elegant around the basket, Shipes showed a nice hook and short bankshot that can open up things inside. The continued development of Crider and Shipes will be important as Curtis Washington works his way back into basketball shape. Washington had some decent stretches on Monday, and also some stretches where it wasn’t clear what he was supposed to be doing. He finished with 10 points and five rebounds.

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