Georgia State was beaten by Georgia Southern 54-52 on Tuesday in Statesboro.
Isaiah Williams led the Panthers with a season-high 22 points.
The Panthers have lost five of six and eight of 10.
Here are four thoughts about the game.
This was a big loss
With the defeat, the Panthers (14-12, 7-10) dropped from sixth to eighth in the Sun Belt, while the Eagles (13-14, 9-8) stayed in fifth. Only the top eight teams will advance to the conference tourney in New Orleans. The Panthers are two wins ahead of the teams below them, so there is a cushion.
But that cushion isn’t big.
The Panthers on Saturday will play Appalachian State (7-20, 5-11), one of the teams chasing them. After that comes Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe, which are third and second.
So, Saturday’s game is pivotal for the team’s chances to defend its tournament title.
Williams has become quite the scorer since being moved from point to off guard. His 22 points came on 9-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-9 on 3-pointers. He missed the potential game-tying shot in the final seconds, but it was a tough shot in the free-throw lane and the Eagles did a good job not fouling him.
In the five games since the move, Williams is averaging 12.8 points per game and shooting 41.8 percent. His season averages before Tuesday were 8.5 points on 34.2 percent shooting.
Crider and the bench
While Williams played well, Markus Crider didn’t. He had no points and no rebounds. He hadn’t been shut out in either category in any game this season. The bench didn’t help. They contributed just three points and six rebounds.
Hunter has said several times this season that he’s not a fan of starting freshmen, and then not starting them again because he think it affects their confidence. But that’s what he did in moving Austin Donaldson from his one-game starting role back to the bench. He also moved sophomore Jordan Session from a starting role to the bench.
Credit Mark Byington
He likely won’t win the Sun Belt Coach of the Year award because of the success of Arkansas-Little Rock, but Georgia Southern’s coach deserves a lot of credit for the Eagles’ success this season. His team lost 10 players from last year’s runners up in the Sun Belt tournament. This year he has 12 players who are sophomores, redshirt freshmen or freshmen and pretty much locked up a spot in the tournament. There’s still a mathematical chance they could be passed because they are four wins ahead of the ninth- and 10th-place teams and they have five games remaining.