R.J. Hunter said he thinks Saturday’s performance against Georgia Southern may have been the best he has had in his three years on Decatur Street.
Hunter scored 35 points in the Panthers’ 72-55 win over the Eagles.
He has scored more, but he said it was the circumstances that made the day special.
The win clinched the Sun Belt’s regular-season title for the Panthers.
The win came in just the third sell-out crowd in the history of the GSU Sports Arena.
The win came against Georgia State’s rival, whose fans held up some funny signs – “I would start if my dad were the coach” – and had some funny chants: “Daddy’s princess.”
Lastly, the win came after teammate Ryan Harrow, the conference’s leading scorer, left just a few minutes remaining in the first half with a strained hamstring. Poof, 20 points out of the lineup gone in the season’s biggest game.
“It all tied together,” R.J. Hunter said.
Hunter, named on the Sun Belt’s player of the year on Monday for the second consecutive year, has always had the potential to score points in bunches. This year, though, those points have been hard to come by as defenses have focused on shutting him down.
But after Harrow went down with 7:53 left in the half, Hunter said he realized he needed to be aggressive.
He proceeded to score 24 of his team’s next 28 points to propel the Panthers to the victory.
He hit long 3-pointers.
He hit running bank shots.
And, as a sign of that aggressiveness, he hit free throws, lots of free throws.
Hunter did have one bad moment when he was called for a technical foul with 6:43 left in the second half, but he kept his cool for the most part.
He heard the “daddy’s princess” chants as he was shooting two of the 16 free throws he shot, each of which he made. He said he thought about looking into the upper deck where the Eagles fans were, but decided against it.
As Hunter said, it all tied together as one of the memorable days he has had at Georgia State.
“For our family, that was one of our best experiences,” coach Ron Hunter said.