“Tonight the lid came off, and I don’t expect it to go back on, but if it does, he can contribute, and he knows that.”
Allen was 9-for-16 from the field, 6-for-9 on 3-pointers and 5-for-5 at the line. Five of his 3s came in the first half, when he scored 17.
“Just from the beginning of the game I was locked in pretty much,” Allen said.
Georgia State (17-10) also got 12 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks from Eliel Nsoseme, his second straight double-double, and 11 points and seven rebounds from Jalen Thomas. Kane Williams scored eight points and had six assists.
Appalachian State (19-13) was led by all-conference guard Adrian Delph with 25 points, including five 3-pointers. Michael Almonacy, who torched GSU for six 3s in last year’s conference final, scored 14. Perpetual pest Justin Forrest, a Decatur native, scored three points before leaving the game with an injury with 2:11 left.
“We wrote on the board before the game the word ‘mettle,’ and we put the dictionary definition up there,” Lanier said. “That was something we wanted to develop over the course of the year, a level of mettle based on all the things we’ve experienced the last two years. The last two nights were examples of us having that quality.”
The first half was a back-and-forth affair – with 13 lead changes – until the final four minutes. That’s when Georgia State finished the half on an 11-0 run, taking a 38-29 lead into intermission when Allen hit a long 3-pointer at the horn. The Panthers shot 54% and were 7-for-12 on 3s – five of those from Allen.
The Panthers upped the lead to 13 by opening the second half on a 7-3 run and led by a dozen after a layup by Justin Roberts at 8:43. That’s when App State got back in the game with three straight 3-pointers, and another by Delph at 6:03 cut the margin to 57-55.
But Georgia State never surrendered the lead and pulled away after Allen scored all the points in a 7-0 run to give the Panthers a 66-57 lead with 35 seconds left. Another trey from Delph cut Georgia State’s lead to five, but Williams put it away with a pair of free throws with 14 seconds remaining.
“We have an understanding that there are no blowouts in these games,” Lanier said. “We expect the games to be like they’ve been all season and even more intense now, so we have to embrace that’s the way games are going to go, and I think our guys understand that.”
Georgia State defeated Louisiana twice during the regular season. In the last meeting Feb. 25, the Panthers finished with a 12-4 run and earned a 65-58 win. GSU has won the last four meetings.
“It’s going to be a hard game,” Lanier said. “We expect that, and we’re OK with that. We know we’ve got our hands full.”