Ryan Harrow will dress for Georgia State in Saturday’s NCAA Tournament game against Xavier, but he likely won’t play.
Coach Ron Hunter said that Harrow was moving better Friday, but Harrow said that he doesn’t think he will be able to play.
Harrow, a senior and Georgia State’s leading scorer during the regular season, didn’t dress for Thursday’s 57-56 win against Baylor after suffering a strained hamstring in the regular-season finale against Georgia Southern.
The Panthers are 9-0 this season in games in which Harrow either hasn’t played or barely played.
“We’re just in a situation right now where we’re in a pretty good groove,” Hunter said. “I don’t want to play him at 70 or 80 percent. I know as a senior this is a tough thing.”
Hunter said if Harrow does play it would be in a special situation. He played less than a minute in the finals of the Sun Belt tournament because of his ability to make free throws.
Ohio ties: Saturday’s game against Xavier, whose campus is in Cincinnati, is personal for Hunter because he grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and played in college at Miami of Ohio (1982-86), where he said they regularly beat up on the Musketeers.
“This would be a bigger win for me personally than the Baylor win, just because being a Midwestern kid and understanding that and knowing it’s Xavier,” he said. “This is kind of a special thing for me and my family because my family all still lives in Ohio, so for us, this is a big game for us.”
More ties: Several of Georgia State’s players know Xavier’s players.
Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter and Xavier’s Trevon Bluiett have known each since both were very young — Bluiett said third grade, Hunter said 5 years old — even spending nights at each other’s houses.
Hunter and Dee Davis played against each other in high school in Indiana when Hunter was at Indianapolis Pike and Davis at Bloomington South, where he won two state titles to Hunter’s none.
“I’m not too fond of him beating me every time,” Hunter said. “He’s a real good high school player, man, and we had a lot of battles.”
Those aren’t the only ties. Georgia State’s Markus Crider is from Dayton and rattled off a long list of Xavier players he knows. Kevin Ware said he and Xavier’s Myles Davis know each other from growing up and playing in New York.
Big man: Georgia State hasn’t faced anyone as big as Xavier’s Matt Stainbrook this season. Stainbrook is a 6-foot-10, 270-pound center who is averaging 12.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
“He looked like a giant,” Georgia State’s T.J. Shipes said.
He outweighs Georgia State’s biggest big man, Curtis Washington, by 40 pounds. Washington, with Shipes and Crider, will try to contain Stainbrook with the same efficiency used against Baylor’s Rico Gathers on Thursday. Gathers, a 6-8, 270-pound forward, had nine points and 10 rebounds, but didn’t impact the game.
Like they did against Gathers and other big players this season, the Panthers’ players will collapse on Stainbrook and harass him when he gets the ball in or near the free-throw lane.
Inspiration: R.J. Hunter said he took some inspiration from No. 14 UAB’s 60-59 win over No. 3 Iowa State to defeat Baylor on Thursday.
The score of the game was announced during halftime of Georgia State’s game.
When Hunter heard, his eyes widened and he turned and began talking to his teammates.
“I said we’re here,” Hunter said. “I mean, we played Iowa State and I could swear they were going to get to at least the Elite 8 because that’s one of the better teams we’ve played. That actually gave me confidence. It’s funny you said that because once I heard that score, I was like, OK, it’s March now, you know what I mean?”
Jerseys: Georgia State will wear the same black jerseys against Xavier it wore when defeating Baylor on Thursday. The Panthers are 5-2 wearing that color this season.
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