The Georgia State men’s basketball team defeated Louisiana-Monroe 65-45 in the Sun Belt opener on Tuesday at the Sports Arena.
The Panthers’ (8-4, 1-0) offense in the first half was as poor as I’ve seen in three-plus years, but they only trailed by three at halftime because the Warhawks couldn’t shoot either. The second-half was as efficient as I’ve seen in three-plus years. The Panthers outscored Monroe by 23 points in shooting 57.8 percent, a slight improvement over the 32.1 rate in the first half.
We will get to why in my two thoughts.
Markus Crider and Ryann Green. Crider posted his first double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Nine of those points came early in the second half in his own personal run. Coach Ron Hunter said after the game that they tried to space out the offense more in the second half to give Crider more room in the high post to maneuver. The tactic worked. Crider, as he sometimes does, proved too much of a handful for the Warhawks.
It seemed Crider’s energy came from Green. Though a starter, Green doesn’t usually fill up a box score but his energy sparks the team. In the second half he created several tie-ups for jump balls and was on the floor almost as much as the words Lefty Driesell. Crider said Green was his hero after the game. Green finished with seven points and five rebounds.
Jordan Session and Jalen Brown. Don’t be surprised if Curtis Washington’s minutes slowly start to decrease. He started because T.J. Shipes missed the game because of an abdominal injury and it hasn’t been announced if he will play Saturday. Washington had respectable stats in 11 minutes in the first half: two points and five rebounds. But Ron Hunter didn’t like his energy and Washington didn’t play in the second half. Washington got his hand on several rebounds in the first half but wasn’t able to bring some of them down. Perhaps the most telling sign was this: on the first possession the Panthers got Washington the ball on the left block in good position. The team often tries to get the ball to Washington early in the game to establish an inside scoring element. Instead of going up with the ball for a hook shot, Washington spun out and passed it back out.
Session and Brown played the second half and combined for 12 rebounds and seven points in the game. Afterward, Ron Hunter said if the young guys are going to bring energy then they will play.