Ron Hunter talks with his team during a timeout om Friday's game. Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Photo: Frederick Breedon
Photo: Frederick Breedon

Georgia State pushes for consistency ahead of conference stretch 

A second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament is Georgia State basketball coach Ron Hunter’s goal this season.

To get there, his team will need to find consistency. 

“We played great against Georgia,” Hunter said. “We played great against Alabama, then we don’t play that well against Liberty. Or we don’t play that well at Montana. It’s consistencies, up and downs, so that’s what we have to do.”

The Panthers finished 2-1 in the Cayman Islands Classic, claiming its first win over an SEC opponent when it defeated Georgia after losing to Creighton. 

Georgia State lost to Liberty to kick off December. They bounced back three days later on the road to claim a come-from-behind, buzzer-beater win over Alabama, outscoring the Crimson Tide 52-28 in the second half. 

“We’ve been inconsistent at times,” guard D’Marcus Simonds said. “We’re always going to bring it back. When the time comes, we’ll be ready.” 

Georgia State (6-3) has yet to lose back-to-back games this season, rallying after inconsistencies on the road against Montana, Creighton, and Liberty. In those losses, the Panthers were outscored 252-194.

With 21 games left in the regular season, Hunter hopes his team finds the consistency to withstand a tough stretch before the Panthers’ ultimate goal, another trip to the NCAA Tournament. 

“I know our guys get up and play certain games, but I got to get them to play all of our games a certain way,” Hunter said. “We’ve got a veteran basketball team, this year we’ve been waiting to kind of get going.”

Last season’s stay in the tournament short as Georgia State fell short in the first round to No. 2 Cincinnati. Hunter wants his team to get deeper in the tournament, gathering consistency and high tempo to outlast others in March. 

“We have to be a consistent basketball team for 40 minutes, and I don’t need to be that in December,” Hunter said. “We have to get that way starting in January, February and March.”

The Panthers have three games remaining in December to gather momentum before the Sun Belt conference stretch starts in January. 

“All of this is great right now,” Hunter said. “Right now what I am excited about is we aren’t close to playing our best basketball yet. I want to peak at the right time.” 

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