Here are Two thoughts after Georgia State’s 115-55 win over Tennessee Temple on Friday at the Sports Arena. The margin of victory set a school record.
The most impressive player to me wasn’t R.J. Hunter or Ryan Harrow. The duo combined to score 49 points and dished out 14 assists. Those are solid numbers. But they are expected. So who did the unexpected? T.J. Shipes. It’s true the Panthers were playing against a much smaller lineup, but Shipes still looked like a much different player than he did the first two years. First, he was in control. He was whistled for just one foul in 15 minutes. There were games last year, and I’m not exaggerating, in which he could be called for two fouls in his first 15 seconds. Second, he was confident. He didn’t hesitate to pop a 10-foot jumper for his first basket. Nor did he get down on himself when he missed a chance at a spectacular, if not spine-lengthening, alley oop in the second half. Having another big man who can spell Curtis Washington is a necessity because they are really the only two centers on the roster, and both would probably play power forward on most rosters. So, while Hunter and Harrow combined for 49, Shipes and Washington combined for 23 points and 15 rebounds.
Defense. Playing a shorter, smaller team isn’t a guarantee of a better performance on defense. Simply think back to last year’s games against Texas-Arlington at the Sports Arena and Troy on the road. But with Kevin Ware in the lineup, the Panthers were focused on defense for 15 of the game’s 20 minutes. They limited the Crusaders to 36.4 shooting, including 20.8 percent of their 3-point attempts. The Panthers forced 25 turnovers, which they turned into 47 points. Ron Hunter credited Ware for part of the defensive performance, noting that he saw Hunter and Harrow diving into the stands for loose balls and deflections, something he’s never before seen.