After missing the last game because of injured toes, Ryan Harrow said he stayed after practice on Wednesday to put up some more shots.
Harrow found his rhythm.
Playing with a steel plate in his right shoe to help, Harrow scored a game-high 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting to lead Georgia State past Texas-Arlington 83-62 on Thursday at the GSU Sports Arena.
“My toes are still hurting, but I didn’t want to miss any more games,” Harrow said.
It was part of a night devoted to feet.
The game was also the annual “Barefoot for Bare Feet” event in which Panthers coach Ron Hunter worked without socks and shoes to help the charity Samaritan’s Feet raise awareness of the millions of children around the world that don’t have footwear. It was the fourth time Hunter coached without shoes and socks at Georgia State (11-6, 4-2 Sun Belt). The Panthers are 4-0 in the barefoot game.
Unlike the last game between these two at the Sports Arena, a 101-91 overtime thriller won last year by Georgia State, Thursday’s was high on energy with the students back in school and filling the arena, but low on execution during long stretches. The Panthers were outrebounded by 14, but forced the Mavs into 26 turnovers.
“It wasn’t a pretty game, but I thought defensively we were pretty good,” Hunter said.
The Mavs (9-7, 3-3) got within four early in the second half until Harrow hit a 3-pointer to push the Georgia State lead back to seven. He hit another 3-pointer to give the Panthers a 56-42 lead with 12:59 left.
“It was good to be able to extend the lead,” Hunter said. “That’s something we’ve had trouble with this year.”
Hunter also credited freshmen Jordan Session, sophomore Isaiah Dennis, and senior Curtis Washington for their defense in the second half. Hunter said Session, who had six points and two rebounds in 13 minutes, may have played his best game this year.
“I’m excited for them (the freshmen),” Harrow said. “They are starting to get a feel for college basketball. It just starts rolling for you. You get more confident after you do one thing. I think that’s what’s happening.”
Georgia State won despite an off night from leading scorer R.J. Hunter. He finished with eight points – 13.1 below his season average — on 3-of-13 shooting. He needs 40 more points to surpass Rodney Hamilton as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,516. The Panthers play at Appalachian State on Saturday and at Arkansas State on Monday.
Kevin Ware added 11 points for the Panthers and Markus Crider scored 10.
The Panthers got a scare with less than 13 minutes remaining in the second half when Ware was fouled attempting a layup. He appeared to skid along the floor as he attempted to jump. He immediately reached for his leg. Ware suffered a gruesome broken leg as a player at Louisville in 2013. But he got up and walked to the bench after spending a few minutes on the floor being examined. After receiving treatment he returned to the game.
His coach also suffered a leg injury in the first half after he was crashed into along the sideline. Trying to protect a Texas-Arlington player from crashing into the bench, Hunter was spun around and ended up on the floor. He said his knee was swollen and left the post-game press conference with a noticeable limp.
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