Georgia State coach Jonas Hayes has been stressing the need for his young team to stick with the process that he’s putting into place, a difficult request after three consecutive losses. On Saturday, the Panthers gave a glimpse into what the future may look like following a resounding win over Coastal Carolina.
Georgia State shot 63.8% from the floor, a school record against Sun Belt competition, and crushed Coastal Carolina 100-66 at the GSU Convocation Center. It was the Panthers’ third-highest margin of victory and their fourth time to reach the century mark against a Sun Belt opponent. They made 16 of 28 3-pointers, one off the school record.
“Our guys really brought it today,” Hayes said. “And while we showed progress, we need to see consistency, and I will not let up on them. I was particularly challenging the last few days. It’s good to see immediate dividends, but we are not letting up.”
Ja’Heim Hudson set the tone early with 21 first-half points. He scored 12 of them during a 17-0 run toward the end of the first half that enabled Georgia State to take a 46-26 lead at halftime. Hudson finished with a career-high 26 points, including four 3-pointers, along with five rebounds, two blocks, two steals and two assists.
“(Hayes has) been a little hard,” Hudson said. “We really needed this win.”
The Panthers also got 19 points from Brenden Tucker, who was 5-for-7 on 3s, 16 points and 11 assists from Dwon Odom, and 16 points and five rebounds from Jamaine Mann. Evan Johnson scored nine points with five assists. Odom, who came off the bench for the first time this season, but still played 36 minutes, scored the 100th point on a short jumper with 57 seconds remaining.
Georgia State (9-9, 2-4 Sun Belt) was 37-for-58 from the field and had 26 assists. The Panthers effectively moved the ball and took few shots deep in the clock, and they committed only 12 turnovers.
“We have a lot of athletes on our team,” Hayes said. “A lot of people think we don’t have a lot of depth, but I think we’re deep enough to be able to get some shots at the bucket before the defense gets set, and our guys settled in on it, and they responded.”
Coastal Carolina (8-9, 2-4) was coming off a road win at Old Dominion. The Chanticleers got 23 points from Antonio Daye and 13 from Linton Brown.
Starting the second half with a 20-point lead, Georgia State did not waver. Coastal Carolina twice got to within 14 points, but GSU took the blows and responded with a couple of layups and regained control for good when Mann converted a four-point play with 13:07 left to restore the 20-point advantage.
“I’m holding our guys to consistent progress, and putting two halves together is a piece of it,” Hayes said.
The offensive outburst came at a needed time. The Panthers were limited to 58 points at Louisiana-Monroe and 53 points against Troy in two of their past three games entering Saturday.
“It’s really for validation, too,” Hayes said. “The sweat equity of our guys is really big. ... These guys have been giving me everything they have in their tank, and at some point, things will turn around for us. You can’t keep your chin on your chest for long. You’ve got to keep your eyes looking forward and stay true to the process, and we’re in the middle of our process, and we’re going to keep stepping.”
The win was especially needed with the club facing a four-game road stretch that begins Thursday at Old Dominion and continues Saturday at rival Georgia Southern.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com