2 thoughts from Georgia State’s loss to UALR

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

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

Georgia State lost its third consecutive game and fourth in five with a 63-53 loss at league leaders Arkansas-Little Rock on Saturday.

It was the Panthers’ (12-7) fifth loss in their 10th conference game. That’s as many losses as the team had in winning the conference’s regular season and tournament last year. They are at .500 in the Sun Belt and  in sixth place after being picked in the preseason to finish second.

They will host Texas State on Thursday in the GSU Sports Arena.

This defeat was like the others in this spell: an offense that lacked an identity and went for several long stretches without a field goal, and a defense that was pulled apart by movement and passing that led to 3-pointers.

The scary part for Georgia State supporters is if not for a huge run in the second half of the overtime win against Georgia Southern, the Panthers would be in a five-game losing streak.

Here are two thoughts about the game:

The offense makes you say ‘Oh’

There were possessions in the first half during which a Georgia State player would hoist a jump shot with three teammates standing behind or near the 3-point line, leaving no one to rebound. And they weren’t open jumpers. And the Panthers aren’t a great jump-shooting team right now.

That contributed to three three-minute stretches in the first half during which the Panthers didn’t have a field goal.

And there were the turnovers, a sudden issue that isn’t helping an offense that isn’t consistently scoring. The Panthers had seven in the first half that the Trojans turned into 14 points.

Such is the lack of identity for the offense right now.

But then Georgia State began to attack the basket in the second half, something they did for a few minutes in the second half of Thursday’s loss to Arkansas State before falling back into jumpers.

The Panthers took a one-point lead on two Kevin Ware free throws with 14:05 left.

But then they started to shoot jumpers again and the Panthers went six more minutes without a field goal. When added together, those were stretches of more than 14 minutes out of a 40-minute game the Panthers couldn’t make a field goal. During that last spell, Arkansas-Little Rock went on a 14-0 run.

Georgia State shot 39.1 percent, missed 10 of its 13 3-pointers and had 12 turnovers. Staggeringly, it had zero fast-break points despite forcing 12 turnovers.

Ware led the team with 17 points. Jeremy Hollowell added 12, just three in the second half, and Malik Benlevi 10. Isaiah Williams, playing the point, had seven points on 2-of-9 shooting, three turnovers and one assist. Markus Crider fouled out with just two points and three rebounds.

The defense continues to struggle

Arkansas-Little Rock had few troubles moving Georgia State’s defenders around so that a teammate could shoot an open 3-pointer in the first half. The Trojans hit 6-of-12 in the first half to open a nine-point lead. During the previous four games opponents hit 39 3-pointers.

The Panthers forced turnovers on the Trojans’ first two possessions of the second half to cut the deficit to five. The Panthers continued to attack out of the zone in the second half and forced three shot-clock violations in the first 10-plus minutes during which it built a three-point lead.

They were helped by Little Rock’s inability to hit 3s. Even when open, they missed their first seven of the second half before Josh Hagins hit one to give Arkansas-Little Rock a two-point lead with 7:48 left.

Because of a defensive breakdown on a switch, the Trojans added another 3-pointer to increase their lead to five with 6:12 left.

The lead grew from there.

Arkansas-Little Rock hit 8 of 24 3-pointers and finished with 23 points off 12 turnovers. It scored 12 second-chance points off seven offensive rebounds.





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